One of the very first moments I realized that I truly was a “alone” came about a week after Nate’s funeral. My dad and I were sitting at yet another bank trying to get all of me and Nate’s financial affairs in order, and the banker asked me a simple question about one of our accounts. I can’t even remember what the question even was, but I remember that Nate had literally just told me about it a week or two prior to his death… As I struggled to come up with an answer all I could do was picture Nate standing next to me yelling in my ear, “I just told you about this Marissa!” I faced many more moments like that over the following weeks as I began tracing what bills were paid paperless or not, what bills were due, how our mortgage was paid, decisions selling the house, etc. The thing is, I kept myself out of the loop. Nate tried to involve me, but I would always listen half-assed explaining, “ok honey, I trust you!” Because I did trust him. With my life. With our lives. With our finances. Life decisions…I followed his lead. And I never once thought that I wouldn’t have him there to continue leading us.
And then he died.
The truth is, I lived under the protective wing of my father my whole life. And then I met Nate at 18, and I quickly began living under his. It’s not a bad thing…In fact, I always considered myself extremely lucky that I had two of the greatest men to help lead the way for me throughout my life. Not everyone had that security…But as a consequence, I was unintentionally clipping my own wings. Nate tried to include me on any decisions he was making, but I was so content with him making those decisions for us, that I never included myself. As a result, those first few months after he died were a myriad of trying to find passwords for different accounts and online bills and endless phone calls…I can’t tell you how many awkward calls I made explaining to the person on the other end how my husband had died unexpectedly. Fun times.
Death has taught me so much about life. One of the biggest regrets I have when it comes to the life I shared with Nate, is not being more involved in our daily affairs and for not allowing my wings to grow alongside his. Like I said, it was unintentional on my part, but I learned in the most brutal way imaginable how important it is to stay in the know. Naturally in relationships, roles and daily routines are established, and a natural comfort evolves through these roles and routines. It was such a feeling of helplessness after Nate died, not having him to ask questions and make decisions with. I remember something as simple as when I had issues with my iPhone for the first time after Nate died. The first thing I wanted to do was ask him…and he wasn’t there.
As the past, almost 2 years have progressed, one of the only good things that has come out of my grief is the drive I have to expand and build upon my own wings. In a way, I feel like I am truly learning how to live for the first time in my life. Sure, I am lucky to have my parents on a daily basis, but this life without Nate has forced me to reach down deep and figure out how I plan on living on my own with a little boy to care for. Nate set the tone for me, and now it’s up to me to put the pieces together and build upon the life we once shared. And it’s hard guys…Most of the time I wish I still had a partner to lead the way…But as each month progresses, I feel myself becoming stronger. I feel myself becoming more driven to continue learning. To continue living.
This upcoming weekend will be a big test when it comes to expanding those wings I just referred to. On Friday I will be traveling with Ian to Pennsylvania for my brother in laws wedding…the first wedding that I will be attending alone in 13 years. It being with his side of the family is already causing an array of different emotions…happiness for my brother-in-law and soon to be sister-in-law, excitement to see everyone, and then utter sadness that Nate won’t be there to stand next to his brother for his big day.
From there, I will then be traveling 8 hours to Northern Michigan with Ian in tow for vacation with my family…My first trip back to Bear Lake without Nate. The last time I was there was August of 2017. A month before he died. I’m preparing now for the emotional whiplash I probably will experience, but I’m also hoping that when I get home from the wedding and vacation, I will feel stronger, as most of these kinds of events have made me feel over the past two years. Living without Nate the past two years has shown me that im capable of more than I ever imagined myself having to be capable of. I have wings of my own, and I’m learning how to nurture them each and everyday. Nate’s life and his death have shown me the importance of challenging yourself and taking yourself out of your comfort zone in order to come out the other side a stronger, better person. I was comfortable with Nate. I felt safe with him. Its that’s a beautiful thing…But in a matter of 45 minutes that security fell to pieces…And it’s no one’s fault, but it did. As a result, I’m learning the importance of acknowledging all that’s inside of me, and each day I feel more confidence in my capabilities…Each day those wings continue to grow…
September 29th of 2017 broke just about everything. My own wings, that Nate sheltered under his own. My heart. My dreams. My feeling of safety…of certainty and security. My visions for the future…Watching my husband die made me doubt just about everything, including how I would ever be able to carry on without him. But carry on I have…And those wings that I thought broke alongside every other part of me have actually begun to grow and expand more than I ever envisioned. It’s rooted in the life Nate gave me. The life he lead.
I’ve learned that nothing is every broken beyond repair…lord, does it feel like it sometimes…But with time, courage, and diligence, healing and growth are possible. So here’s to healing and growing, guys. And here’s to spreading my wings and hoping that someday I will fly higher than I ever imagined.