For most couples out there, when you stand in front of the person you have chosen to do life with, promising “till death do we part,” you don’t think about the day you will inevitably part. I know I didn’t. I promised that to Nate all the while thinking we’d be that couple to die together holding hands in bed, “The Notebook” style, after living long, full lives together. We’d grow old and wrinkly together. We’d have more kids and then later be blessed with grandkids we could spoil rotten. We’d buy a house out in the middle of nowhere after retirement and spend every night on the porch drinking wine, rocking in our chairs and staring out at a moonlit sky, thinking to ourselves “we did it”.
Then death came knocking on our door only 5.9 years after we made those vows. On September 29th 2017, Nate’s heart stopped beating…Exactly one month before our 6 year wedding anniversary. I spent our six year wedding anniversary standing in the rain over a mound of dirt that he was buried under instead of out on the town like we always did.
Till death did we part.
Our grandkids will look at pictures of their grandpa, and he will forever be a 36 year old man. No wrinkles. No age lines. I never even found one grey hair on his head.
Till death did we part.
I used to get angry.
I used to get really angry and really sad. Why did Nate and I get jipped out of our happily ever after? Weren’t we just as deserving as every other couple out there? Didn’t we do everything right?
Yeah. We did. We were just as deserving. But life grabbed us by the balls and pulled the rug out from under our feet. Life showed us that each of us have a number, and that we truly have no control over when our number is up. I have spent the past two years coming to terms with that fact, and no it hasn’t been easy, but ohhh…how its changed how I live life.
The first six months to a year after Nate died, I spent in a constant state of anger, numbness or debilitating sadness (I preferred the numbness or anger). I had so much regret. So much guilt. Even some resentment…Selfish thoughts…Nate was gone, and he left me to deal with all of this life all alone. How freaking unfair! There were dark times when I even thought how much easier he had it. How freaking ridiculous, right?
The second year of life after Nate took me on quite the ride. As I’ve written about before, my mind became more focused on the next chapter of life for Ian and I. Much of the anger and numbness began to get replaced with acceptance and fortitude. Sadness was still there. I now know that there will always be moments of sadness. Probably even days of sadness. And that’s ok…But amidst the sadness, I try to remember that even though we did get jipped, we had an amazing almost 13 years together. My life with Nate and the legacy he leaves behind has shaped me and continues to shape me into a better woman. And lastly, there is one major thing that I have really begun to learn and accept…
My life isn’t over. There is so much more I want to do. So much more I want to see and feel and accomplish. I want to prove to myself that healing is not only possible, but that it can lead to a whole new beautiful journey in my life if I let it. I can’t wait to build a life with Ian. I can’t wait to continue watching him grow and thrive and become so much like his daddy. I can’t wait to finish school and find some sort of peace in the new life im working towards…And I can now even admit to myself that I dream about a day that I might meet someone who doesn’t look at me as Marissa the widow but rather, Marissa the survivor. Someone who may look at me and view all of my scars as beautiful rather then viewing me as damaged goods. Someone who is capable of loving my son as his own and someone who wants to know Nate and the man he was, understanding that he will always be apart of Ian and I…but also understand that while he set the foundation of love for me to want to love again, it is me who now knows I’m capable of loving again. It is my heart that wants to love again. Differently and more deeply. Yes, I can admit all of that, as scary as it is…Because again, my life isn’t over.
As I begin the third year of life after Nate, that has become my mantra of sorts. My life isn’t over. Having dreams and making goals has been my life saver… I want to continue to discover who Marissa is and what I’m capable of...and as I continue to write the second chapter of my life, I become more aware of just how important it is to leave the anger behind. To leave the “why us” behind. Life is full of a million “whats” but I’ve learned that it’s the “how” that really matters…how did you live? And I don’t want to live life full of anger. Nate wouldn’t want that. So I try to focus on the importance of basking in the beauty of the memories of my life with Nate and days like October 29th 2011 when we promised “till death do us part”…
And as I remember, I can still feel the chill of the autumn breeze and the cool mist that began to rain down as Nate wrapped me in his jacket and kissed me under that darkening October sky. I can still feel the depth of our vows and the excitement of our journey ahead as we held each other hours after becoming man and wife. I can still taste the bourbon on his lips, a token of celebration from our ride from the church to the reception hall. And I can still feel what it was like to feel…I remember it all with an open heart and tears in my eyes, knowing that the greatest gift of life is the gift of feeling and loving and the gift of being able to continue to live in general.