As my life moves forward, I realize there will be an entire group of people that never knew Jared. People who came into my life after his death. People who never had the pleasure of calling Jared friend. And I want people to know him. To know his story. To live a better life because of his story.
As my new husband and I move forward with our life, people will assume we have always been together. They won’t know that I had another great love. A man who taught me to love. That because of Jared I am able to love Jon so completely.
Our son started a new school. A school with new friends that will never know his dad. His new social circle won’t share any memories of Jared. His friend’s parents, his teachers, everyone new we encounter will assume that Jon is his dad. They won’t know that his dad lives in heaven. They won’t know what an awesome dad Jared was. Or how proud Jared would be of the young man Steven is becoming.
As milestones in Steven’s life approach, I always think I wish his dad was here. I always wish Jared could see this, wish Jared were here. As Steven graduates, gets married, has his own children, we will have stories of Jared to share. Sharing stories is the only way we can ensure Jared is included in our family events. I wish I could give Steven the gift of having his dad present in his life. But I can’t. Instead I can give him the gift of never forgetting. Of always remembering Jared.
As my life moves forward and I form new relationships, there will be many people who never met Jared when he was alive. But because those of us that love him will keep his spirit alive, his memory alive, those new people can get to know him. He will always be a part of our family. It’s my job to see to that. To ensure he is never forgotten. To remind the world of a great man who lived life to the fullest. To say his name. To keep my promise to live and love. To make him proud with how we have lived since he died. It is not always easy to move forward and live life but it is what Jared would want. What he would expect.
When people assume Jon is my only love or that he is Steven’s dad, I will take it as a compliment of how well we live. Because living my best life now doesn’t erase the past. Sharing my life with my Jon, doesn’t erase the life I lived with Jared. Making new memories and having new adventures doesn’t undo my past memories and adventures I shared with Jared. Instead living a full life, a life of love and adventure now is the best way I can honor Jared.
Part of my job as Jared’s widow is to keep his memory alive. To be the rememberer. To ensure no one ever forgets him. And that responsibility is my privilege. As my life moves forward, I will have the honor of sharing Jared’s story with many who were never blessed to know him.
When I honor Jared, I keep his memory alive. Honoring Jared, keeping his memory alive doesn’t mean I have to stop living or loving. The two are not mutually exclusive. I can honor Jared, say his name, keep his memory alive all while living my best life now. I will always remember. And I will do my best to ensure those I meet on my new adventures, have the privilege of getting to know the man Jared was. The life he lived. And the space he will always occupy in my heart.