Hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once – Chinese proverb.
It’s been five years since my husband passed away but honestly, it still feels like five days.
It still feels like I’m still sitting in the front row of the funeral home staring intensely at his handsome made-up face which beautifully neglected his lupus scars and bald spots.
It still feels like I’m at the hospital the night before he received his wings, laughing away at corny jokes, eating chicken and sipping down the strawberry jello.
It still feels like the day in the bedroom when he realized the severity of his illness and cried in my arms like I’ve never seen a man cry.
But most of all, it still feels like the day we both apologized to one another for the wrongs we’ve done and vowed to forgive and forget.
But it’s not.
Today is a different day.
Today is a just another day of living, and I have vowed to keep his memory alive in plain view. And by doing so, I’ve vowed to never remove his pictures from my home, no matter what, no matter who asks, no matter if I remarry, which led me to write 5 reasons why I will never take them down.
1) For Me
A picture is worth a thousand words. This Chinese proverb (some versions vary) exemplifies so much truth for me and I’m sure for many others. Each picture, including the frame, presents a unique memory for me, like the picture of he and I on the Spirit of Baltimore cruise where I showed off my favorite white shirt or the one of he and my dad toasting champagne at my wedding.
I need to see his pictures. I’m a visual person; I always have been because hearing something a hundred times isn’t better than seeing it once.
2) For the Children
I attempted to remove his pictures about three years into my widowhood because I just couldn’t bear the grief and depression. I didn’t want him to see me emotionally unbalanced. But that lasted two seconds because my kids quickly shamed me. I vowed never to remove them again.
3) For the Resilience in me
Staring at his face on a daily basis reminded me of how far I’ve come since 2012. Recently, I found a stack of photos that I had finally removed from the poster board that was displayed at his funeral. My sister, my sister-in-law, and sons rummaged through many photo albums to find just the right photos to showcase for that day. The photos helped to captivate the very essence of who he was. I knew that the appearance of normalcy if only for that one day, was necessary for others to see; at least for the sake of the kids. But it soon ended shortly after the calls, texts, and visits. Today, I can honestly say that my grief is no longer held hostage; healing helped launch my resilience.
4) For the In-Laws
The pictures will always be a gentle reminder to his family that he will never be forgotten.
5) For My Future Husband (If I decide to remarry)
Some may view this as a selfish act towards my future husband. It’s not because if he should receive his wings before I receive mine, he would be honored the same way. I would only hope he would do the same.
It’s not like I’m stuck in a time-warp – I’m not.
It’s not like I haven’t dated – I have.
It’s all about celebrating his memory no matter what phase I am in life.
If I decide to remarry, I pray that my new husband is able to withstand his memory with me, too – that he can also relate to how deep the depths of grief can reach, go away, then come back again.
I pray that he understands that I may sometimes recall the good times, not comparing the two, but simply and respectfully embracing the unexpected flashbacks that so easily may make its way into my thoughts.
I pray that he also understands that a tear may shed here and there and he will understand.
I pray that he will understand that grief is a part of life and it will never end, that it will recede over time, and that a portion of it needs to be memorialized somehow.
But the truth of the matter is, there will always be that one memory that will still feel like it happened just yesterday.
This is my story and I’m sticking to it.