You turned 38 last week but instead will forever be frozen in time at 36. Some days I feel like it was just yesterday that our world got turned upside down, and others it feels like it’s been ages. The more time that passes though, the further removed I feel from the me I was with you. And most days I feel like I’m the oldest 32 year old woman this world has ever known.
So much has changed, Nate.
I have changed. I’ve had to.
Your death has changed me. Its hardened me. In my weakest moments, it’s forced me to search for strength I didn’t think existed. It’s forced me to try and look past the bullshit that consumes too much time and stress in so many of our lives, and focus my energy on what matters…Which is living.
For the longest time after you died, I was terrified. Terrified because for the first time in my life, I had no clue how tomorrow was going to look. Terrified that I wouldn’t make it an hour or a day, yet alone an entire year without you…And here we are having celebrated your second heavenly birthday last week and approaching the 2nd anniversary of your death in two months. I look back at where I was last year on your birthday and can hardly comprehend how much has changed.
Last year on your birthday I was paralyzed with emotion. Robotic-like…I planned the entire day out from what I made my friends and family for breakfast to what beer I drank in honor of you. This year I realize that while it was a beneficial part of my grieving process to spend so much time trying to channel you, it wasn’t necessary. As much as I’ve changed, you are still a part of my everyday existence.
I do feel like I’m changing everyday though, Nate…Getting further and further from who I was two years ago. I have a year of school under my belt and im beginning to see “the light at the end of the tunnel” in the reality that next year at this time I will officially be on the job hunt and later house hunt as Ian and I begin living out our lives together… Its weird realizing that I won’t have you here to depend on like I did for 13 years…But in return I’m learning to depend on myself. Each day I feel stronger. More confident. Sometimes it makes me wonder if you’d feel the same way about me had you met me today. I still rely heavily on that goofiness you always said you found endearing about me…But I am so far removed from that 18 year old girl you fell in love with all those years ago…so different even from that shattered woman who stood in the emergency room begging for your life.
Last year the idea of moving forward was gut wrenching. I was scared that true happiness would always be fleeting for me, and that lasting joy would never be apart of my life. And while I’m still on this journey in grief (I’ve learned it never ends), this year I can say that I will do everything in my power to find happiness and joy again. Because I want to be happy again. And GOD it was hard to finally admit that to myself…Because by doing so, I am also admitting that I want to find happiness even though I know it will be without you. It still doesn’t seem fair. I’ve come to realize that’s because it never will be fair.
The one thing I can promise you, Nate, is that you will always be here in a sense even though your physical presence left us far too soon in life. I have found a sanctuary in our memories and in the knowledge that nothing can take those from me. I have found peace in our son’s smile, and the promise of the future is brighter with him by my side…My life’s greatest gift will always be your living legacy. I still see you in every step I take, because it’s the life you gave me for 13 years that empowers me with hope to find happiness again. It’s your love that reminds me that love will always be worth it…and the possibility of feeling that love again makes me more hopeful and less scared. The truth is, I thought my heart was irrevocably broken after you died. But I’m beginning to realize that the love you gave me makes that impossible…Your love and the love we shared makes me want to freaking love even harder because I realize how fragile life really is. It makes me want to fight for tomorrow even more. My heart may have broken the night you died, but with each passing month, I’m finding the ability to piece it back together, hoping that someday it will be stronger than I ever imagined.
July 4th will always be your day, Nate, and we will always celebrate you. Your life was truly the best gift to so many…I hope that even though I’m not the same girl you once knew, that I can make you proud. Last week as we gathered around your grave to watch the fireworks, I couldn’t help but feel a little more peace then I did last year as I looked towards tomorrow. We will always miss you. I will always miss you. Your death did in fact change me in more ways than I could possibly say…But it’s your life that strengthens me. It’s your life that has made me want to live differently…and It’s your life that reminds me to continue living and loving. So living and loving is what I will do, knowing you’ll be watching every step of the way.