You were gone, in an instant, just gone and I had a terrible time understanding death. How can a person just go away? How could you go away? I lost you but I also lost a piece of my innocence, a blissful ignorance of how terrible grief really is, I didn’t know how much it would hurt to lose you. I didn’t know how much I would hate the finality of it all. I didn’t know how hard it would be to survive losing you, realizing we really don’t have control.
My love couldn’t save you, I couldn’t argue my way out of this, we couldn’t argue our way out of your diagnosis or the prognosis, I was going to lose you. I did lose you and there wasn’t/isn’t a thing anyone could or can do to change it. The hell I’ve been through can’t compare to what you must have went through, realizing your parents would grow old without you. you wouldn’t get to watch Jack or your nephew grow up. We would never get to live out a life we fought so hard for. I would never be your wife and you would never be a husband, or a father. You died with some regrets, some anger at what wouldn’t be, but not without love. I like to believe you found a way to make peace with some of this, an imperfect peace, that life just is what it is sometimes.
My favorite moment with you? I had gained a little weight and I was whining to you about it, changing clothes in my walk-in, frustrated before we went to a party. I asked if you still loved me the same, were you still attracted to me the same, all of those dangerous, dangerous questions a woman should never ask a man. You didn’t even stop what you were doing when you said simply, “I’m in love with your heart, you’ll always be beautiful to me”. You know what? I believed you and I knew it the second you said it, it was true. My insecurities and anxieties were eased and I realized just how much I love you. I felt my love for you grow, right there. You really, really loved me and I really, really loved you back.
Later, when cancer, chemo and surgery changed you I got to return the favor (in a way I wish I never had to) and say to you “I’m in love with your heart”. We were no romance novel, we fought just as hard as we loved. We broke up more than Rachael and Ross but we loved like Johnny and June.
A lot has changed in three years. I have the cutest, craziest puppy. It occurred to me the other day that she never knew Luke, Luke will never know her and that is strange to me, it made me sad. I look at Lucy Girl, my cat, and I think how lucky she was to lay next to him, to know him. I’ve had to trade in vehicles when one transmission went bad, so now I have a new car, a car that Luke has never driven, his hands have never held that steering wheel or changed the radio dial. I always oddly took some comfort in driving my old car, because I knew I was where he had been. A new bed, a bed that Luke has never held me in. A bed that doesn’t know me tracing his surgery scars or kissing his back that was so skinny, a skinny I had never seen or felt before. The Italian restaurant he took me every year for my birthday has closed down. I got a promotion at work. Jack is growing into the most amazing human being I could ever imagine and he takes good care of his Momma. Luke, I know you see him, I know you’re beaming with pride!
My home is a home Luke never knew. His hands have never held a door, turned a faucet, or opened a window. This home of mine holds no memory of Luke, just my grief.
Life keeps going, even when we want it to stop, life will come. It has to. I’ve finally realized peace doesn’t have to be perfect. No one’s life is perfect, peace looks different to us all. I will never like, understand or be “okay” with the fact that Luke got sick and passed at an unfair age of 34, but I must honor my life to honor his. I know that’s what he would want and I know that’s what I deserve.
For those of you who are just beginning your grief journeys, I cry for you today. I cry because I know how much pain you will have to endure to survive this loss but I promise, you will find light. You are going to have to fight like hell every single day but you will find light, maybe lose it and then find it again…don’t stop searching for it.
Fight for your own life, for your own peace (whatever that looks like for you). Try not to fight people who love you because “they don’t understand”. Try not to fight yourself, try not to become your grief. You are grieving, you are not grief. You are a beautiful soul capable of immense love and that is why your pain runs so deep. I became a grief monster but I forgot that my grief was born from love. You will never be the same, ever. This will hurt and there is no way around grief, there is only a way through it. Celebrate the days where you see the light and adjust your eyes to the dark when you can’t.
My peace is cracked, it’s not perfect but it’s peace all the same, the best I could come up with so far. Maybe one day it will be smoothed over and the edges won’t be so rigid but for now, this rough around the edges, new normal is what I’ve got and I’m doing okay.
So, as I move forward in this life of mine I want to honor my past, honor a memory but work harder at putting down the ugly pieces that are so hard to look at it, hard to remember, hard to hold. Their jagged edges cut my hands and over the years, they have bled more than they should. I have grown exhausted of the pain. I lost someone I loved dearly, maybe more than I loved myself at times. I’ve realized my love wasn’t always the healthiest but that didn’t make the loss ache any less, maybe it made it ache more. So much damage was done, pre and post cancer.
I didn’t know it was possible to miss someone so much, for so long but here I am…three years later. Stronger than I ever realized I could be and you are too, not because you want to be, because you have to be.
It’s 3:00 am and I can’t sleep. Three years ago, you were still alive. Three years ago, you died.