Today is my 15th wedding Anniversary.
I have to take a deep breath here. For this one in particular, my seventh without Mike, has hit me especially hard.
As I inch closer to being widowed equally as long as we were married, I’m not quite certain how to process the reality of it all. Does it mean something? Is there some significance or shift I should take away? Am I healing the way I should?
It’s easy for me to question my personal journey as a widow. Often I wonder, “Am I doing this whole widow thing the ‘right’ way?” It is easy to wonder if I should be doing something differently. Yet at my core, I know that I am doing the best I know how with a life that came to be completely without warning or preparation. I also know by now that it is normal to feel this way: To feel all the feels in these big anniversaries, holidays, events. Life is complicated and there is a lot to process when you are moving forward in hope and grief.
I am reminding myself that as I face this anniversary, I need to allow my feelings to wash over me. To experience them and not reject them. To allow them to mostly just, be. Feelings that I know, from experience, will pass. And the ones that linger? Those are the ones that sometimes need a little looking into and a whole lot of self compassion, grace and prayer as I do so.
And what I have also found to be true on this anniversary, is that I am at a loss for words. The words that do come out are a jumble. Can you relate? So a lot of my day has been in quiet – thinking and observing.
I have spent the past several weeks trying to express where I am at. It seems terribly ironic to be a writer and have such difficulty finding words. Yet, how do I adequately express the weight and depth of loss that I am still enduring? How do I share something still penetrating when it’s so often expected to be lessened or over with by now. How can I even begin to share with you what I can barely find the words for myself?
I think that is why I am always drawn to that beautiful light that peeks through the trees. Do you know what I am talking about? It is that glimmer that catches your eye. The one when you’re walking through the woods that seems to follow you and cast the most beautiful warmth on whomever or whatever is lucky enough to be in its presence.
Something about that light seems to negate any need for words. The light just beckons to be recognized…appreciated…adored. Time and time again, it reminds me of my husband and is perhaps another dimension of why I am drawn to it. It is uncomplicated yet mysterious. It just IS. And it is simply lovely and something I never grow tired of seeking and admiring.
Recently I learned that there is a term for the scattered light that filters through the trees. It is the Japanese term “Komorebi” (木漏れ日) for which apparently a simple English translation does not exists. It is a unique and impactful occurrence. The impact of Komorebi can range from creating a pleasant ambiance to generating feelings of awe – which in the right place at the right time – verges on the transcendental.
No wonder I have found the light peeking through the trees to be a kind of stop-me-in-my-tracks eye-catching.
Not long ago, my children and I were coming home from a weekend getaway and stopped to play in some newly fallen snow. Glimmers of light caught my eye as it peeked behind cloud and tree, making everything feel sparkly and bright.
And guess what? That’s exactly how we felt as we threw snow balls and dodged behind trees and each other, trying to hide from a direct hit. All throughout our time in the snow, with that light casting down on us, I felt…saw…heard Mike’s presence.
In the sunlight’s warmth and my children’s happiness, I felt the warmth and joy that Mike always brought into a apace with him.
In their playfulness, I saw scenes of Mike and I playing and laughing in the snow as a young couple. Mike’s ability to always keep his childlike wonder for all things in this world now alive in our children.
And in my children’s laughter, I heard his laughter, pure and uninhibited.
I stepped back to capture the moments and all I could think about is how he’d be right there with them, with us, if he could. What a beautiful gift to experience him so unexpectedly in such a simple, pure thing.
Something in the light before me over the years, time and time again, has always made me feel connected to Mike in the Heavenly space that I believe he now occupies. To this day, seeing glimmers of light through the trees makes me feel like he is present with me in the moment. For me, it is another reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness during what can be a difficult season for us. It is why today, on this anniversary, I bundled up my children and went for a walk in the woods. It is Komorebi that remind and renew in me the HOPE that I/We built our life upon and raised our children to as well.