Last night was amazing! J & I attended a memorial event with one of my best friends, Kim and her daughter, Kenzie. The event was hosted by the grief center that has served us all at different times, but still managed to bond us. My first night at group (I was a shell of who I am now) was ironically Kim’s first night as a volunteer facilitator. The rest is history. She brought me back to life. I’ll always love you for lighting a very dark path for me. Thank you for getting it, all of it. Here’s to us, life & “lemons”. Always, lemons.
I have been so, so excited about this event. May is a tough month, Luke’s diagnosis anniversary, Mother’s Day (heavy-hearted for his Momma), Luke’s birthday and now Memorial Day and the events that come with it. This event was a mile long “memory walk” and along the route there were signs, signs with our lost loved ones names on them. I was nervous, anxious to see Luke’s sign. His sign was towards the end of the walk. I got more and more anxious as we walked but he was in the perfect spot somehow. My eyes started to leak when I saw it, I was happy and sad. It meant so much to me to have his name out there, for everyone who walked past it to see his name and know how much he is loved and missed. Keeping his memory alive is so important to me.
We also had the opportunity to purchase lanterns for the missing pieces of our hearts, and we lit them together during a ceremony, a beautiful ceremony. I was so proud to be there, holding the lanterns I was holding, being Luke’s person again. I felt so close to Luke, kind of like we spent the night together again. The night was full of tears, we all cried, but it was also full of laughter, smiles and support. Last night was about our lost loved ones and the journeys we’ve traveled trying to live life without them. We’re all making it, somehow.
This morning I woke up feeling a little down, still happy with how the night went but like something was missing. I think this feeling is similar to what people feel after they plan a huge event, like a wedding, and then feel a sense of loss or “let down” when it’s over. It was back to the reality that I’ve gotten fairly used to, life without Luke. Last night I was able to actively do something “with him”. Last night Luke was so much a part of everything we did and this morning, just like every other day, he was just gone. His sign, while still special, is really just letters on a board. His name is now just a name, not a person, with a beating heart, he is a memory. In memory of…still, I couldn’t be more proud to stand next to his sign, to call “him” mine.
I took his sign right out of the ground after the event and brought it home, which I was totally allowed to do. 🙂
I was tearful after I dropped J off at his summer program this morning, I felt anxious and couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. I of course called Kim and she validated my feelings, helped me understand them (she gave me the sign is just a sign, not a beating heart bit). I chatted with her for a few minutes, cried some and then had a really good rest of my day. I’ll string those lanterns and hang them in J’s room. They’ll make for cool lighting (I’m not allowed to call them night-lights anymore).
We got to write notes and put them in our lanterns, and on Luke’s I wrote “I told you so” and I was referring to me telling him that I would love him forever, and I will. I hope I love again, I hope God has more planned for me but I’m so thankful he gave me this chapter with Luke, even now, I wouldn’t go back in time to the night we met and not “pick him up”. That’s right, I hit on him, he was shy but way too handsome to pass up.
As we stood during the ceremony, holding up our lanterns, I thought of all of you, “my readers” but I prefer to call you my friends. I wished you could all be there with me. I thought of every story you’ve shared, every comment you’ve left and every sweet note I’ve received. I thought of you and I thought of your person, as I would imagine them through your stories, your vision. Luke and I always said “I carry your heart”…well, I have a lot of room in this heart of mine and I carry a lot people in it. I sent you all love & light last night and I hope you felt a moment of comfort, of presence, that someone remembers you, remembers your pain and your loss. You are not alone.
I remember a time when every smile brought guilt, every laugh felt like a betrayal and every step or sign towards healing slammed me back into the thick of grief because that’s how I would keep Luke alive, that’s how I would hold on. I am now living life for myself, of course for J, but for Luke, too. Loving harder, laughing harder, living my life to the fullest for those who can’t. He’s okay now, I’m okay…we’re okay. You’re okay. There is light, for as long as it’s dark, for as long as you may have to walk, you’ll get to a place where you can stop to rest and maybe even smile.