I will never forget that chilly October morning 7 years ago when me and Nate’s lives together were officially about to begin. We stood hand in hand on opposite sides of that cool stone wall at Spaghetti Warehouse downtown, and when the photographer gave us the signal, we were finally able to face one another for the first time, all dressed up in our wedding attire. I remember looking at him, so handsome in his tux, thinking “I can’t believe that today I finally get to be your wife”.
I remember that day seven years ago when I married Nate as if it was yesterday…and then despite my resolution of avoiding it, my mind wanders to that night one year and one month ago. Ever since that night in the emergency room, I’ve tried really hard to focus my energy on the beauty my life with Nate brought instead of the nightmare that unfolded on September 29th of last year…But dates like today make it difficult because as I look back at the joy October 29th always brought us, I am now forced to celebrate alone because of that night…making it really difficult to not drown in the memories of why I spent the night with a tear soaked pillow and an empty side of the bed.
After somebody you love dies, especially on these big dates (anniverseries, birthdays, etc), their life plays out like one of those old movie reels…Clips of memories flash before your eyes, highlighting the beauty of a life well lived and encompassing you in such a flurry of emotions that it literally makes your heartache.
I see the night I first met him officially. In a royal blue t-shirt, coming down the stairs with his shaggy hair, putting down his laundry to shake hands with me. I see him down on one knee, asking me to marry him at the Park of Roses. I see him standing at the altar at the church we were married, smiling at me next to our favorite people as my dad escorted me down the aisle to give me away. I see him on the beach in the Bahamas, standing by the ocean as we lived up our first week as Mr. And Mrs. Mast. I see his face the first time we heard our son cry as he entered the world. I see his smiles. I see him playing softball with his buddies or dressed up in a golf shirt ready to do a round with my dad and uncle or his brothers. I see him mowing with our boy. I see his car pull into our driveway and can almost remember that sense of peace I felt watching him walk in the front door every evening. I see our last morning together…And I still see him standing in the garage the last time I saw him alive, as I shouted “I love you” from the car.
How is he gone? How is he literally not walking the same plane of existence as me? I still can’t wrap my mind around it. Last year at this time is such a blur. I visited his grave on our 6 year anniversary for the first time since he had passed, which also happened to be the one month anniversary of his death. I barely remember that day other than thinking “holy shit my husband is underneath that pile of dirt,” and bawling my eyes out at that brutal dose of reality. A year later, I still can’t process how he is gone but I have a whole year of practice of living life without him…which doesn’t make his loss any easier, but definitely more real on a daily basis.
Death scars you in ways you could never anticipate. The wounds left behind are so deep, and they reopen constantly despite your best efforts to heal. I’ve come to learn that while those scars will never go away, to rely on the love that Nate gave me will be strong enough to help heal them enough to get through days like today. He loved me so much that he literally chose his forever with me…how incredible of an honor is that?
I woke up today angry. Sad. Overwhelmed with memories of that beautiful October day 7 years ago…But then I remember why it hurts this bad…We loved the shit out of each other. That day we said “I do” seven years ago was perfect and although our story never got the ending we wanted and deserved, today I’m going to try my best to remember the love. As I sit next to his stone today, I am going to try my damndest to remember the love “I do” brought instead of the pain of “goodbye”.