What I’ve learned is I still want and miss my old life, and I still want to be married to Wes. What I hope is that he is looking down on me and is proud. Proud that I’ve made it, or making it, and proud that the kids are doing well and making it also.
I hope that every time I see a Cardinal, in my tree outside my kitchen window, or on a bike ride as I peddle myself forward, that it is he checking on me, even in the form of a bird. I’ve learned to appreciate the red bird on a branch in our yard, as I’ve learned to accept my bird sightings as my gifts.
I’ve learned that I am able to move forward without him even though I don’t want to. And I’ve learned I don’t want to still. I’ve learned I still need him as much as I ever have but I’ve learned that I can rely on myself. But more so, I’ve learned that Wes’ and my leaning on each other was never burdensome to us, but instead mutual, and not because we couldn’t do it alone, but because we didn’t want to. I’ve learned to relish that knowledge.
I’ve learned that I can make tough decisions on my own albeit – shaky a lot of times, but I can. I can because I’ve had to. Am I proud of that? I guess so. But I’ve learned that I’m most proud of getting up and moving out of the closet on those horrid days. My absolute worst days, in fact, when I couldn’t move my feet and could only feel the fibers of the carpet under my hands and my knees as I crawled around begging for an ounce of sanity. Even if just for a minute. I’ve learned that even on those days and in those insane cycles, that there was perspective lurking in the shadows propelling me forward. Even if I couldn’t see it then and even if I couldn’t identify it, there were slivers available to me. But moving forward, often without direction, but still forward has become a quiet victory to me. I’ve learned to look at those absolute dark times and give them the reverence that they deserve, because they almost killed me, but they didn’t. I’ve learned to appreciate the broken woman I’ve been and realize that I’ve been building myself back up for the last five years. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve learned that I have to find the joys and I have to grasp them and languish in their beauty when they come my way and when I can get them. I’ve learned that in theory, and I’m learning it in real time.
I’ve learned that I have never taken Wes’ love for granted. I’ve always known it can be temporary. I’ve learned that from the lessons of a nineteen year old that sat on the side of the bed and watched cancer take her mother. I’ve learned to not take life for granted, as I’ve also learned not to take my loved ones for granted. I’ve learned again, that life is short, but what I’ve learned the most by the tragic loss of my mother at an early age – is to not to take my husband or kids for granted. And I did not. I ate and drank them up – every piece of them, every minute of every day because I love them more than life itself. And I’ve learned that love is precious and maybe time is even more precious. I’ve learned to make it count.
I’ve learned to love and I’ve learned to trust – a gift from Wes who didn’t let me down. I learned to trust by his devotion. I’ve learned that I have been graced by God’s blessing by having Wes in my life, even when I felt his passing was my curse.
I’ve learned that we heal and we move forward. I’ve learned that I can forgive. Still forgiving God for not saving Wes, but I’ve learned that maybe I get it now. Maybe I can grasp loss – this loss, my loss, with a more even temperament and a more measured perspective. And I’ve learned that my attitude about losing Wes as my curse needs to be maneuvered and altered to become my realization that I was blessed for the 30 years that I had him, and we had each other.
I’ve learned that I can grow emotionally out of the most abject, raw pain possible and can look on my life with Wes as my utter blessing. That his passing is the worst and the saddest moment in my life but I’ve learned that I can turn that around and feel grateful for the blessing of sharing a life with him and us with our children. I’ve learned that this is a huge step for me. I’ve learned that this revelation in its singularity will move me forward.
I’ve learned to love my children even more for who they are, who they are becoming and how much they each resemble their father and how his traits shine through each of them every minute of every day. I’ve learned to observe those occurrences and relish it and appreciate it. I’ve learned to enjoy those moments with a smile instead of constant yearning. I’ve learned that I already did and that I do – indeed.
I’ve learned to smile and not cry. I’ve learned to make peace with my life circumstances and have hope for a bright future. Or maybe a brighter future than it’s been for the last several years. I’ve learned to appreciate the fact that there is a future. I’ve learned that guilt is here to stay in regards to my ability to hold a future in my hands while Wes cannot. Guilt is here to stay. I’ve learned that’s just a fact.
And I’ve learned that in every broken woman, there is a resiliency that lies beneath. Often just below the surface, even when we don’t know it’s there. I read a quote that says: “A women’s strength isn’t just about how much she can handle before she breaks. It’s also about how much she must handle after she’s been broken.”
I’ve learned that I’m broken, but healing. I’ve learned that putting the pieces back together again may be the toughest parts of life. But I’ve learned to understand and respect the resiliency, because it’s what’s kept me afloat. I’ve learned that with grief, you have to let the pain sit and steep and surely be felt – every last horrid morsel of it. And I’ve learned that only by allowing yourself the painful luxury of letting yourself bleed grief, can you manage to heal and move forward. I’ve learned it’s a daunting process. I’ve learned to hate it. I’ve also learned to respect and appreciate the effort it takes to come back to whole, or almost whole. I mean really – who are we kidding? But half whole is better than being shattered and at this point I still may not be whole, but I’m closer and maybe as close as I will ever get. And at this point, I’m learning to celebrate that accomplishment. Completely whole may never happen but almost whole is ok. I’m learning to celebrate that imperfection.
I’ve learned I have a huge capacity to love. I love and loved Wes with everything in me. I’ve also learned I have a huge capacity to hurt, because I’ve hurt over Wes’ passing with everything in me as well. I’ve learned I can endure more than I thought I could. And I’ve learned I don’t really appreciate that lesson, but it is what it is, and I’ve been sacked with it so now I have to endure it, and that I have. Again, I’ve learned that I can.
I’ve learned to live in the present and be grateful for that moment. When I slip and go backwards, and ache for the past, I’m learning to stop it short, and be mindful. I’ve learned that these are conscious decisions. I’ve learned that it still isn’t easy, but I’m trying.
I’ve learned to relish relationships more, and spend more time with those that I can be calm around. Calm helps. Calm helps me. That’s another thing I’ve learned. And I’ve learned to relish every laugh that comes out of my mouth and every smile that crosses my lips. Those moments capture a glimpse that there is still happy to be had and that I am still capable. I’ve learned that’s a valuable lesson.
I’ve learned it’s more courageous to let go of the pain that is keeping me static. I’ve learned it isn’t more loyal to hold onto the pain to prove your love. I’ve learned it’s ok to smile to hide the tears. I’ve also learned tears aren’t so bad. I’ve learned to cry less and smile more. I’ve also learned that sometimes there are no words for the pain that is inside your heart. Sometimes, there are simply no words.
I’ve learned that my new reality is not something to be solved but rather to be accepted. I’ve learned that in order to be in the present, I have to accept my reality. Although I’ve spent five years with one foot in the past and one foot in the future, I’ve learned this mindset will hurt you, and in the end, you just wind up doing the splits.
I’ve learned that I am looking forward to having more laughs. I am learning that laughing is still my favorite thing to do, and I am learning to have new things to laugh about and creating new instances, and realities where I can enjoy and partake in that. I’ve learned that I still like to follow people around that consistently make me laugh even realizing this could be considered stalking. But I’m ok with that and at this point, I’ll take a laugh whenever I can get it, in spite of the risks.
I’ve learned that my life is still shaky at times, but I’m learning that instead of walking on cobblestones with spike heels, that I’m actually walking more with treads and a desire to use them on solid pavement to places unknown and places unseen. I’ve learned that I am walking with steadiness now, more so than I’ve had in years, as I’ve clawed my way, walking and crawling over life’s uneven terrain.
Although I have hated this journey for every minutia of pain that I’ve endured, I’ve also learned to appreciate the effort it’s taken to get me on solid ground. But mostly I’ve learned that Wes’ and my love for each other was simple in its completeness but complicated in its pain from separation. I’ve learned to appreciate the simple love and the complicated loss as a testament to something enduring. I’ve learned that I am lucky in that.
That’s what I’ve learned.