As famous poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson once said, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”.
In the past almost ten months, I have battled with this idea.
I had felt love. Before Nate, I had felt love. Love for my parents. My sister. My friends. My pets. That indescribable devotion and loyalty for a person or something…So deeply rooted, it is almost inexplicable and purely thrives on an innate attachment to the somebody or something that just gets you. Yes, I had felt love.
When I met Nate though, and we began dating, that feeling that I thought I had felt, blossomed anew. It took residence in a new place in my heart. It was confirmed, I had felt love…But when I met Nate, I realized I had never experienced the falling part of love. The kind of love that inspires two strangers, from very different lives, to say “hey, I get you…but I want to get more”. And that curiosity, that longing to know more, eventually grew to a “hey, I know you, and now I know I want to know all of you” which eventually grew to a simple, “I know you. I choose you. All of you”.
And he did. He chose all of me, and I chose all of him. And together, we chose forever. We had forever…
Until we didn’t.
Widowhood is one of the biggest mind-fucks of my life. How will I ever be able to reconcile the fact that I was given the deepest of loves and then it was brutally taken from me without a moment’s warning? That is the hardest part to grasp…That I felt love so deeply, and then he died.
My husband died.
As I look that brutal reality in the eye every morning I get up, I am beginning to understand one fact…While Nate did die, the love he carried, the love he gave, the love we shared, did not. And trust me, many times it is almost impossible to acknowledge that fact because anger, sadness, depression over his loss are in constant competition with that love, but slowly I am beginning to understand that love truly is stronger.
I remember walking into the emergency room, literally two minutes after Nate had been pronounced…Seeing him lying there as the past thirteen years of our life together flashed before my eyes. I was certain that right then and there, my heart would stop beating right next to his. I think in those moments, I selfishly even wanted it to. I was angry at love that night…The aching. The pain of what love had caused me to feel as I was forced to say goodbye to the man who I had chosen forever with…I’ll never forget the hollowness that was left in my chest as I walked out of that hospital that night.
In the days following Nate’s death, the pure shock, sadness and anger quickly turned to numbness. I remember sitting in the front row at my husband’s funeral and literally staring at the same bouquet of flowers as the service went by…feeling nothing. Tears continued to surge out of my eyes, but I felt nothing. Love was trying to conquer that day, but its like my body and mind shut down…And that numbness followed me for a good two to three months until the holidays rolled around.
Around the holidays I began feeling again. Being surrounded by holiday festivities and cheer was a pure punch to the gut and the most intense reality check I had had that my love was gone.
The sadness was overwhelming. I fought it.
The anger was all consuming. It consumed me.
The numbness came back. I soaked it in. Because it was easier to feel nothing rather then everything.
In the past almost ten months, the war that has been raging inside my heart between those emotions and numbness has been the most intense, humanizing experience of me life. But I am beginning to realize that love is actually the backbone to everything I have felt and that numbness, although easier, is an escape from acknowledging the love that was my life with Nate. He gave me the most realest of real loves and because of that gift, I am beginning to realize that anger, sadness, depression, that “grief rollercoaster” are all reminders that I did love. That we loved. And that that love was so deep and intense, it makes feeling ten months after he died just as intense. I don’t want to be numb from that anymore. To be numb from those emotions is to be numb from that love.
I am starting to embrace those raw moments of anger…The sadness. The tears. As I wipe each tear off of my face as I look back at pictures of our life together, I feel closer to Nate. Yes, it hurts. Its unbearable at times…But in those moments, I am wrapped up in our love and it reminds me that our life together was worth every single tear and fit of anger or depression. It was better to have loved and lost, because even though Nate is gone, our love still wins. Its not gone.
Love was worth it. Love is worth it. And I’d do it all over again.