I didn’t expect to feel ready to write but I keep hearing Joe’s voice in my head telling me to, ‘get to work, make time, write a list and get things done, make no excuses‘.
I didn’t expect to hear him, to feel him more now that he’s gone.
I didn’t expect to be signing his death certificate on our 3 year anniversary, but there I sat, staring at an urn with a giant deer head on it and in awe of this entire process.
I wanted to go alone and I sat there in the small room at the funeral home almost in a giggle at the entire thing. Joe would have got a kick out of it. I laughed as I told the funeral director the urns were a little too “grandpa” for my taste and I should go into designing better looking boxes for the dead. It felt like business as I swiftly made my decisions and signed on the line. I walked outside and looked up to the sky saying out loud, “I did it. I miss you. I love you. I did it.”
I took myself from the funeral home to the restaurant on the water where Joe and I ate after our courthouse wedding. I felt so close to him as I sat at our table and told my friend every detail of that day. I felt okay, I didn’t expect that.
Joe left two letters, one for his mom and one for me. Beautiful goodbyes and so much hope for the future. I found them tucked into a file cabinet full of paperwork I knew I needed because he coached me through what I’d need to do.
“Here is the life insurance paperwork, Amanda.” I remember his showing me. “These are the numbers you’ll need to call.” He went on. “This is your budget, again, check the account before you spend money and online shopping is still shopping.”
I went to that file and found more than the notes he left me to take over running our household. I found his words of encouragement and his love penned out on two pieces of paper.
I don’t know how I’m suppose to feel and I worry how I’m grieving. Is this normal? Should I be in a black veil and crying into a hanky? What does a 30 year old widow even look like? Is it bad I took my daughter to see Santa 6 days after her dad died? I don’t really know.
I know I cried as I struggled to get the baby to bed and thought to myself I didn’t sign up to do this alone. I know I felt my heart break as I watched our daughter dance to the Christmas carolers because I hated Joe was missing that moment. I know I felt okay as I sat with friends and told them about Joe’s final days. I felt shock as I opened one of Mira’s books to hear Joe’s voice echoing from the pages, a recorded story book I didn’t know he had finished. I quickly closed it and knew I wasn’t ready but I’m thankful I have it for when I am.
Unfortunately there is no answer book. This is uncharted territory. I’m a single mom now. I’m a widow now. I’m the girl people whisper about when I leave the room, “Did you hear her story”.
But all I need right now was written out for me as I read my letter from Joe again tonight.
“Allow yourself to grieve,” he wrote, “Take time. Breathe deeply. Then, when you are ready, move forward. Like we say about changing the way you handle people, the pain will always be there. But it’s how you handle it that really matters.”
How’d you know just what I’d need to hear, Joe? How are you gone and still know me better than anyone? How I miss you, my love.
But I’m happy tonight because I didn’t expect to feel you so close.