I remember feeling so isolated and alone after Dave died. I remember feeling like there were few who would understand. I remember going out and about and only seeing couples and complete families (those with a dad). I remember feeling like things had forever changed and there would be no return to the normal I once knew.
Those first years, everywhere I went it felt like I stuck out and everyone knew I was different. My sorrow, my heartbreak, my brokenness seemed to reflect through all the eyes that saw me. Many days, I felt invisible. It felt like I was in a daze and wandering around without being seen or cared for at all. Grief had taken my own existence away from me. It had created a me that barely co-existed with anyone, anywhere.
As the years passed, I began fighting my way back into life again. I began going out again. I spoke to friends about other things than my tragedy. I met new people who did not know my story. This life ran parallel to the isolated life. I still felt separated. I still walked in the world of the grieving through support groups, widowed friends who understood, and my own heartbreak. It is only in the last few years, I have felt like I’ve assimilated. It has only been the last few years that I felt more included, seen, felt and well, somewhat normal again. I know that the normal that I am now is very different than the normal I was, but I am feeling…well, like I am part of the world again, less invisible.
Last week was spring break for my boys and me. I noticed things that I haven’t noticed. The places we went and visited, I saw more people like me. I seemed to see more moms with kids, but no dad…women with children baring the responsibility all by themselves.
It felt like they were everywhere. I wonder if it is a new thing or if my eyes have just been opened in a new way. There was another thing…I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t feel sad to be out and about with my boys, just me. I didn’t feel broken. It just felt like us. This is a new thing for me. The world revealed more women like me to me…but more importantly, I saw that we are who we are now and that is ok. We are a complete family. Even without Dave, even through the heartbreak, we are complete. We have come through this tragedy and are doing ok. Do we have our bad moments? Of course. Is every moment perfect? Never…but, I didn’t feel broken anymore. I didn’t feel like every moment was missing something. I enjoyed the moments as they were. I enjoyed my family as it is. I didn’t ask myself what ifs…
Each day of my journey has brought me a new understanding of who I am. Next month, we will mark the eighth anniversary of his death and we will march into year nine without him. To me, this is unbelievable. I never thought I’d make it through a day, let alone eight years. Many days, I am amazed. Amazed by the people who have helped and loved us through all of this, by the strength and courage my boys show every day, by the mentors who modeled survival to me, and by the mere fact that we have survived.
So for all the girls (and guys) out there like me, hold on. If I can get here, I’m pretty sure you can make it too. My heart was so shattered; I thought it would never heal. I was broken beyond my own comprehension. I was beaten down to my core. I could not see a way, a path, a reason to keep going without him…but, I am here. I am here. I have found joy again and am grateful.