Your entire life changes the day your significant other dies. It starts with you going to sleep for the first time without them there. Maybe it’s in your parent’s house, maybe with your best friend sleeping in your bed. Maybe it’s just you, laying in your bed with the spirit of your missing half. All those things are okay, but they’re all still changes.
I fought those changes, I fought them tooth and nail. I fought them till I turned blue in the face and just about exploded. I was so set in stone that everything was to stay the same, nothing could change from how Dakota left it. Like not moving and changing his things would keep him there with me. His clothes, his keys, the horrible mess of soda pop cans that he used to leave in a trail around the house for me to clean up. (Oh how I miss those cans now.) One by one those things changed. We picked up his soda cans, we picked up and washed the dirty clothes he’d worn on the ranch from the week before he passed, I hung up his keys to the clinic and the never-ending locks scattered who knows where. One by one those things changed, and I had no choice but to embrace it. There was zero ability to avoid this change, it was either roll with the waves or drown.
Those changes even one at a time took their toll on me and my heart. It was as if every change I made took me even further away from Dakota than I already was. Like changing things would be what pushed me down the path, that would never allow me to go back to the way things were before. Even things like taking a shower felt like I was washing away what little traces of him I had left. As if changing those things was me moving on, which I wasn’t ready to do.
That’s the beautiful thing about love. No matter what you do they will always stake a claim in your heart. You can scrub as hard as you want, you can change as many things as you need to to feel comfortable, and they will still always be there. Even after all the change, you’ll still be standing there, still full of life with your hammer and your nails ready to put back together the pieces you’re left with.
I sometimes wonder if my strength and perseverance through what’s happened has been viewed as a sign that I must not have loved Kota as sincerely as others love their other half. However, I want to set one thing straight, I was madly in love with Kota. I still am for that matter; I can’t begin to explain to you what it’s like to be in love with your dead husband. I fell so deeply in love with him because of who he was as a person. If you were to ask anyone about him, they would tell you the same thing as I. He could make you feel at home like you’d known him your whole life in a matter of five minutes. You couldn’t help but love him. Even if you tried not to… I tried that too, it didn’t work.
He encouraged me in every aspect of my life. It didn’t matter what wacky idea it was that I had come up with you could always count on his response being “whatever makes you happy baby” with his handsome little half-smirk. He was able to be so light and carefree, but so serious and sincere in situations that called for that. Truly one of a kind. He made sure to take the time out of his day to make sure I knew how much he loved me. That might have been showing up with plants or flowers that now decorate every room in our house, or beating me inside after the nightly chores to draw me a bath with bubbles and warm towels fresh from the dryer, exactly how I loved them.
I thought a love like that only happened in storybooks. Dakota taught me that it was real, that you could be utterly and completely in love with your best friend. I’m not going to try and say that we didn’t argue like any other couple, but things were never held onto. We loved each other too much to fight like that. In no time at all, we were cuddled up in bed or on our couch watching a movie or show with our motley crew of dogs. About as many as you have fingers.
I still wake up and I look at all the photos of the amazing memories I was blessed to share with Dakota. Why god gave him to me only to take him away I don’t know. I’ll never know the answer to that question until I come face to face with the big man himself. How much more of a blessing could I have asked God for though? To marry my best friend and the man of my dreams, to share a love with him so great that even Romeo and Juliet would be jealous.
Change may come with tugs on my heartstrings, but I know that it’s Kota pulling away up there. I’m certain he’s making sure my new path down here is nothing but the best because that’s what he would have wanted for me. I don’t have to accept the fact that Kota’s not here to experience the best with me, but I do have to embrace the change to be able to navigate this new crazy life. For this path I’m on will soon begin to reshape me as a new person.