At the intersection of joy and sorrow lives a grieving woman. The fragility of life is a constant reminder not to feel too happy, as it can quickly shift to being too sad, too lonely, too heartbroken.
I watched Joe take his last breath and was fairly certain mine went right along with it.
When cheese makes you cry, I wrote on my first holiday as a widow. I had to document the duality of my life, a baby’s first Christmas, and without a daddy. Every happy seemed to make me sad, every memory- painful, every smile- forced.
Grief had stolen the girl who sang in the shower and replaced her with someone I hardly recognized. Anger lived on the surface of my skin and oozed from my soul in the cracks that had once held hope for the future.
Friends got married, traveled, grew their families, and I stood still- sinking into a pool of sorrow and bitterness.
“I hate my life,” I whispered to myself as I drove a crying baby in the middle of the night, praying for sleep. It wasn’t the life I had planned. I was a solo, widowed mother. I was unemployed- I’d left my dream job to care for my sick husband- I was so utterly alone.
I don’t re-cap my story for sympathy or a pity party. Hell, I’ve thrown myself plenty of those.
I tell my story repeatedly to anyone who will listen to be sure someone else in the darkness continues to look for the light. I share and over-share and write it all to be sure I never forget how very far I’ve come.
It’s been 6 years and 8 months since I lost Joe and lost myself and each day, month, year, brought new challenges and changes on the path to feel “home” again.
Then, this morning as I stood under the scorching heat of the showerhead- I heard it.
I hummed along with the music blaring and even tapped a little naked toe.
Who the hell was this? And what was this feeling? Familiar and yet like an old childhood friend, you strained to recognize through the wrinkles and signs of life splashed upon their once freckled face.
And as fast as the joy had filled my lungs, the tears stung my eyes. I have longed for so long to feel anything but shattered, and here it was- my old forgotten friend happiness.
I wrapped myself in a towel and headed out into my new bedroom, the sun shining through the windows, the laundry of a man, a woman, and a child overflowing the basket below it. The sound of a dog tapping to be let out at the door and the sweet goodbye kiss on my forehead of a man who is showing up and loving me with all my broken pieces.
I wish I could tell you I met a super hot guy, and it fixed everything ( I did meet a super hot guy, though), but the work was bigger than all of us. He did give me a big diamond (which I also really like), and most of all, he’s promised to love me, our daughter, and our daughter’s daddy forever and ever.
Bendy hearts, I call it. Stretching and leaning in new directions to grow and embrace these new versions of ourselves, both a little broken, both a little lost, but both “home” and holding on to all the joy- and of course, singing country music loud in the shower.