This is a picture of two people that don't exist anymore. Yesterday marked 13 years since George's physical departure after a protracted battle with leukemia. I've worked hard to heal from not just the pain of the loss, but also the wounds left behind from our often time dysfunctional relationship. Yep. That's something I've never spoken about, save a few dear friends, because there's a societal rule that dead people are elevated to a superhero perfection status. He had many great qualities and I adored him. I was proud to be his wife. Also true: he had anger management issues that I would have been better off without.
His death remains a perpetual paradox. I like the complicated nature of it, because it mimics what I find in other aspects of my life. Sometimes I miss him, love him and hate him in equal measure. So what? My healing work has taught me not to hide out from any of it. I welcome all the various emotions that run through me when I think of him. Which is often.
His death put me on a path of deep struggle for a while. Being a single mom and the head of a household was extraordinarily challenging. People often ask me how I got through. There's no answer. You just keep showing up day after day and time just passes. But, it changed me so deeply, that when I look at this picture, I realize the young woman next to him is just as long gone as he is.
I was liberated by his passing. I didn't want it. But that was the effect of it. I became completely autonomous and self-reliant in a way that I can't imagine would have been possible, had he lived. I got to witness what I am made of, I celebrate these qualities in myself and I have deep gratitude for the woman I have become.
Would I give it all back to have spared his children their pain in growing up without their dad? YEP. In a second with no hesitation.
That's my grief, as candidly as I have ever described it. Trauma is complicated. It's not linear and tidy the way society wants it to be. Instead, it's textured and layered. Full of heartbreak with unexpected silver linings interspersed. Things are not just one way. When we get our heads around that, any situation can transmute itself to be tremendously empowering.
Things are not just one way.
My perspective and response to the pandemic passes through this strainer every day. I can already itemize the things lost. There are likely to be many more. The upsides are just as readily obvious to me.
It's incredible to be drawing from the lessons and the wisdom of loving, losing and living without George. I share from my heart, hoping it will inspire or at least offer some food for your thought today.
I bet there are some really hard things you have been through that have had the unintended affect of helping you navigate your right now.