8 years ago this week, my heart was dealt a most devastating blow. I was crushed; physically broken; emotionally overwrought. Life could never be the same. The only reason to get out of bed each day was to care for my 3 and 5 year old kids, and I couldn't always do a very good job of that. The thought of even trying to look to the future seemed impossible. I trudged through the days, retold the story, waited for each new piece of information to come in. Nothing filled the hole. Half of myself had been ripped away, and I could feel every last raw edge where the connection had been. I didn't know it was possible to feel so hollow.
As the months started to pass, and lots of friends and family encouraged me, I started to take little peeks out of my emotional hole. I cried through every service, but I went to church. I went to a grief support group. I tried my best to make it through all the "special" days. Sometimes I did great, but sometimes not. I spent a lot of time sitting under a tree, talking to a headstone. I asked God for just a tiny glimpse so I would know heaven was REALLY there. I KNEW it, but what I would have given for just a smidge of proof on those extra lonely days.
Eventually, a Thursday could pass without me remembering that it was the cursed day. I started to see a glimmer of light here and there. I took some interest in taking care of me, as well as the kids. I started going to some church activities. I went to Colorado for a month to bask in the loving care of my family. I had the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends and make some new ones. I even went to the gym everyday. Finally, I got a hint that life was actually going to move on. The hollow spot was still there, but it was a little smaller, and I was learning to live with it.
Late in the summer, right before the kids would head off to school, I got up the guts to take them camping with our church family. I was afraid of taking it on by myself, but I knew my friends would be all around to support me. We stayed in a forested area, just across the road from the beach. When night came upon us, and the kids were tucked safely into bed, I had the strongest urge to go take a walk along the water. I could hear the waves crashing, and I needed to go soak up some of that power. I quickly found someone to peek in on the kids from time to time, but struggled to find anyone to head over to the sand with me. They all had their families there, or were involved in other activities. I knew I needed to be respectful of the "buddy" rule that had been put in place by our pastor for safety reasons, so I resigned myself to try again the next night.
Much to my surprise, a few minutes later you asked me if I still wanted to go for that walk. I did, and we went, but the journey out of the campground and across the road was a little awkward. I knew your name, and a little of your history; but only because it was infamous like mine. What did it mean that you wanted to walk with me? As we walked across the beach toward the water, we fell into a rhythm of conversation. We talked for hours as we watched the neon waves and more shooting stars than I had seen in my lifetime before. What was happening? I didn't know, but I knew I wanted you to hold my hand so bad. I was afraid though, and could only bring myself to mention that my hands were cold. Apparently, you were scared too, because you couldn't bring yourself to reach out your hand either. Regardless, the foundation was set. We hit the beach again the next night, and haven't stopped talking since.
I'm not quite sure how we made it through those next few months. There was no time for sleep because there were too many subjects to cover. We poured our hearts, souls and minds out for the other to examine, analyze and love. We had a bond in our brokenness, and little by little, helped each other figure out how to pick up the pieces and love again. It was the most wonderful, and most terrifying time of my life. With each new revelation you could have left, but you stayed, and so did I. There is nothing that I will ever be more grateful for.
I finally came to the time when that ever important "one year" mark was going to pass. They weren't easy days, but they were made so much more palatable by your presence. As silly as it might sound to some, that date was important. I had survived. A full circle around the sun had passed, and I was living, breathing, and even flourishing. That had been an impossible notion a year before. There was one more thing that I hadn't accounted for though. You were now very much a part of what surviving and living again looked like for me. I HAD to be with you. So in spite of the the fact that my need ruined your original plan to propose, you welcomed me with open arms. I am so thrilled that you came up with a new plan though, and asked me to be your wife 7 years ago today.
I realized the other night that we have now been married to each other longer than either of us had been married before. I even mentioned it to you at the time. The things I didn't say were these. I figured out on the day we got married when this time would come. Somewhere deep in my heart, I figured this time would, somehow, make you more completely mine. I have never been jealous of the past, but more likely, afraid of the future. Could we, possibly, pass the threshold that we hadn't before. Now I know, without a doubt, the answer is YES. I still feel afraid sometimes, and I still have to give you up to God everyday until you come home safely to me in the afternoon; but my heart sings with the love, growth and uplifting you have given me in the last 7+ years. I am truly a better woman for having had the opportunity to be your wife. Thanks for asking.
PS As is typical, the details of things don't always turn out exactly the way we'd hoped. I searched for the perfect song to go with this letter, and almost found it. The only trouble is, it is called "Better Man", and is sung by a guy named James Morrison. Oh yeah, and Blogger wouldn't let me embed it in this post, so you'll need to click on that little box at the top of my sidebar over there on the right. So, if you could do me the teeny, tiny favor of overlooking those details, this song is dedicated to you for all the things you do to make me better.