We are all survivors. Most of us have endured something difficult that we remember as something survived. Today is the anniversary of the hardest thing I’ve had to face. Five years ago today, my husband died.
I have this quote on my email – nothing is more beautiful than the mantle of survivor – I love this quote. Today, I feel it more deeply than most days. Today though, five years down, I feel it differently. Today I don’t want the only mantle I wear to be survivor. Today, I want my mantle to be as diversified as my soul. For many years now, all I have felt like is a survivor. I have felt my “widowness” to my core. Today, though, something feels different. I am not crying. I am not aching from missing my husband. Do I still miss him? Yes, very deeply…is there the physical pain and sadness as there has been in years passed? Not today. Today I am more than survivor. I am Chris. I am no longer just widow, I am Chris with all that comes with that…mom, woman, single parent, cook, writer, lover of sunshine, dogs and cool cars. Something is different today as I look at the landscape of my life that has been so changed by that day five years ago.
I have said this before, but not always meant it…I would do it all again even if I knew of the pain that I would have to endure…today, I can say it and mean it. That is a good day. I can recognize all the goodness that came from Dave and I knowing and loving each other. Again, it was never perfect, but it was ours. I am deeply grateful for knowing him, loving him, laughing with him, fighting with him and building a family with him. I am deeply grateful today. I am even grateful for the pain of losing him. It has made me a better person…just as loving him made me better. Losing him has rocked me to my core, broken my spirit, left me lonely and broken and with all that, it has given me a great gift. It has helped me become more me than ever. It has helped me to know my depth, my capability, my weakness and my strength. More than anything it has let me know the capacity of my ability to love. To me, this is what really matters. I tell my children that we were created for really only one reason…to love. We are here on this planet to love each other, those who enter and exit our lives and to love ourselves. Love has been a great gift in my life and in knowing and loving Dave, I experienced it deeply. In having our children and surviving his death, I have lived the words I tell my children. For when I was most broken, it was love that kept me going. It was the hope that love brings, even when the pain of love lost is so great that it hurts, that has filled my heart with gratitude today. I can say with truth today – I am grateful. I am so grateful for know my husband and having him in my life that today I will celebrate. I will miss him forever there is no changing that, but today, I have been giving the gift of a grateful heart and I will be present to that feeling and share it with all those around me. So today, I am turning another page. I am moving from just a survivor back to Chris and all the gifts and garbage that entails. I will take survivor and weave it into all the other pieces of me. It will not be my mantle today, but be integrated into my being, into Chris. It will always be a large part of who I become, but it will not be how I define myself.