Over the last week, I've had time to go through my journals and have seen how I've processed my grief the last several months. I've seen how I've sometimes been stopped cold by my good friend and others soared past it. These days, it feels like I'm in a better place. Guilt and hurt make fewer cameos while perspective and empathy play the staring roles.
I used to often wonder why. Why did he have to die? There are so many people that are in worse condition, and he was the chosen one. But the truth is, I don't know how bad it was because I tried to stay out of his life. Although I still cared about him after our break up, I know that he still loved me, and I felt like being an active participant in his life could keep him from moving on. I wanted more than anything for him to find someone that loved him how he loved me. Someone who could give him the children he so longed for.
Instead, I was given complete freedom from him. I was taught to truly put my well-being before anyone else. And I was given opportunities to change the course of my life from the black abyss I often saw as my only future.
I found a passion for running which led to some weight loss and being physically active in a way I hadn't been in years. When I was heavier, I remember getting motion sickness in the swimming pool. On the Fourth of July, I swam back and forth several times in my sister's pool and chased around four giggly girls who claimed I was a shark for at least twenty minutes and didn't feel a rumbling of motion sickness. I've seen my mile/minutes time decrease as the year of running has progressed. I like how when I look in the mirror before my shower; my belly is where it was when I used to suck in my gut. And when I smile real big, you hardly see my double chin. When friends suggest doing something physically challenging, there's no longer that fear that maybe I'm too fat to do it. My last doctor's visit was very positive. She was so happy with my weight loss, and all my labs came back normal. I find myself standing taller and looking brighter with a healthy glow from all all the sun I get. If it hadn't been for Daniel, I don't know that I would be so committed to my running.
In early May, my oldest sister's husband passed away. Like Daniel, he'd had an illness that he chose not to taper with consistent doctor visits and lifestyle changes. The time we spent in El Paso with her was a blur. My other sister and I were there for everything from the moment we arrived--the meeting with the funeral home, the meeting with the people from the cemetery, the visits from family and friends asking "what happened?" I hated having to see her retell the story every time. Part of me wanted to record her telling it, so she didn't have to do it every time someone new came by. I didn't want to see her break every time. It shattered my heart when my niece came home from work crying because so many people had gone into the store where she worked to tell her they knew her dad and were sorry for her loss. What I remember most clearly from that time was the overwhelming feeling of helplessness I felt at the funeral because there wasn't anything I could say or do to make the process easier for them. They are going to be broken for a long time because grief hangs around as long as it feels like. It annoys me to see people comment their sadness on my sister's status when she posts something about Joe. I always want to tell them that they just need to love and support her. She doesn't need to know how much they are hurting because it really can't compare to what she and her girls feel. Had I not had a recent experience with it, then I don't think I would know this.
So, I keep moving through this with my shoulders squared back and my head a little higher because that's the only way. I see these life challenges as an opportunity to learn and lead a happier life. And right now, I think that true happiness is most certainly going to be a constant in my life because my spirit is resilient.