Just beyond 6 years ago over 300 people gathered at Starks Funeral home and celebrated the life of a man that can not be described. I could describe that day or the day after, the funeral, but that would be heart wrenching and I can’t do it. 6 years seems like a lifetime ago although I can still feel the sting of those days. What is life like 6 years later and completely unrecognizable? I have spent hour upon hour upon hour trying to dissect, describe, understand, define and explain grief. All I can say now, six years later is that grief just is. It is a way of life. It is a core part of who I am. So much now that I don’t even recognize it. My old life is fading more and more each day. This doesn’t mean I am forgetting it but just that my new life is becoming my life. I would be safe to say that it doesn’t feel all that new anymore. I will forever and always be Benji’s widow but it no longer defines who I am. After six years I find myself in a stage of grief that no one talks about. I sometimes find myself not recognizing my old self but then feeling like I am living someone else’s life today. Its a complex place to live and perhaps one day it will all make sense.
This day is the one that changed me forever from the deep core of my soul.
Thankfully this is no longer. I am unbelievably happy with where God has placed me, something I wish I could tell this young girl in the picture. I have a man by my side who loves me as Benji loved me. In a letter that I wrote Benji before he died I promised him that I would one day remarry and choose someone prayerfully and carefully, only choosing someone who loved the boys and I as much as he did. I explained that I didn’t think it was possible. Although David loves us with a different kind of love. It is love. Pure love. Possible.
My heart has grown. I love two men. Just as I love 4 children. The heart is an extraordinary thing with the ability to morph , change, grow, adapt and surprise. I am thankful for a heart with unlimited capacity!
However, with this joy unfortunately comes guilt. Even now as I am very settled into this life and these lonely days are long past me… I feel waves of guilt for being happy. Sometimes I have a hard time grabbing onto happiness because I either feel guilty or I am afraid of losing it all over again. I know loss is possible. I have to work on being ok with that. I have to be ok that grief can still effect me emotionally and physically. I can’t be afraid of something happening to me and leaving my boys without a mother. I can’t be afraid of becoming a widow again. I often feel like I have already lived my entire life and am looking back on it. Losing a spouse makes your own mortality very real. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the naivety. Go back to the innocence. But it’s lost and lost forever….however……
The level of contentedness I am living in is like nothing I have ever felt. I live in the moment now more than I ever have. I don’t live for the future like I did before my life turned to dust. I appreciate. I acknowledge. I understand. I am thankful every day. I am thankful for a messy house because I know it only exists because it is filled with the activity and laughter of 4 amazing children. I don’t let things get to me like they used to. Grief has changed me. It has changed me for the better. So it is ok to say that I am thankful for grief?
I recently read a widow blog and she put it this way.
“One thing I also learned is that those who are card carrying members of our crappy club are some of the best people in this entire world. These people have lived through pain and anguish and so many have come out the other side more beautiful than ever before.
Grief teaches perspective, patience; love like never before, kindness, tolerance, acceptance, appreciation for the present moment, and so much more. Grief is perhaps the greatest teacher known to man but it comes at a very steep price. I always say that I would not wish my pain on my worst enemy but I’d wish my perspective on the world.”
Scarymommy.com Michelle Steinke-Baumgard
So yes, I am thankful for grief. It has changed be for the better. However, grief can still rock my world. I sometimes feel like I have a grasp on life but then I lose it all over again. But one thing for certain is that even though I have an old life and a new life, I am still the same girl. I am a blessed girl who has had the ability to love two amazing men. This girl is morphing and still changing and I am excited to see who she becomes. But in the meantime I will live as Heidi……