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.
Here’s to new beginnings to everyone. We deserve to be happy. ❤️❤️❤️
A beautiful way to remember. We just don’t realize how many others have been through the same experience. I am 55 years old and have been married twice. I first got married at 26 and was married for 6 months. My husband was at a bachelor party and was mistaken for another and was shot 3 times by a man that he just spoke with earlier in the night and was mistaken for another person. I was angry being so young but 2 years later I met my second husband and was married with 3 kids for 23 years before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He survived for 3 years. I never saw anything like it. Till death do us part. It has been 4 years now. I still wonder why this happened to me. I still think of him when the reminders are there. Birthdays anniversaries and all of the firsts that my kids will have without him. My faith has kept me going through the ruff and lonely times. I too hope I can meet someone again.
Kim, I am so incredibly sorry for the loss of both of your husband’s. My heart breaks for what your heart has gone through, but I am in awe of your strength and ability to share a part of your story with me. Thank you. Sending you love and hugs! ❤
This article was in my newsfeed today and decided to read the article.
I so needed to read it.
I too am a recent widow of 640 days. My husband and I were together and had just celebrated our 5th Anniversary. 27 days later I became a widow due to a freak accident.
My Blue Eyed Gentle Giant was my first husband marrying at the age of 50. I too never thought our time was limited. I am truly blessed that we had the time we did.
I really thought that I was the only person who felt like you do. I now realize that there are many of us out there.
Thank you for sharing.
Lynne, I am so, so sorry for the loss of your hubby. It never gets easier meeting other people who have faced such a similiar tragedy, but I hope you can find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in this journey. Sending you love. Thabk you for reading my story and for sharing a part of yours. ❤
Beautiful. Love and hugs and cheers to new beginnings. 💞
Thank you Katie ❤
Marissa this is beautifully written, put your heart speaks and it really touches us to the soul,. Yes life sometimes just does not seem fair and we can understand now why but I had to think of my dad losing his first wife when she was 41 and then the second wife died when she was 48 and now he has his third wife and they’ve been married longer than the other two combined and I know when we talked with him , he loves to talk about the bygone days and often gets tears I know that God has a way of healing but you never forget the love of your life. I so desire you to experience something that can bring you so much joy again even though I know you will never forget Nate you do want to move on and experience love again. That’s my prayer for you .appreciate you so much Marissa. Love. Sarah
Thank you so much Sarah. Your words and prayers mean more then you will ever know!