Seventeen years ago I got married. In only a few days, I will have been alone as many years as I was married. Crazy. Thinking back, I feel like there have been so many lifetimes in my one lifetime. There is this intangible thing about time, yet when I look back, time feels so concrete. When I think that eight and a half years have passed since Dave died, I really can’t wrap my brain around it. In those early moments, it felt as if time had stopped. If it hadn’t stopped, I certainly wanted it to stop. I wanted to stay as close to the moment that he was still on the planet as I could. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to go forward into a future without him. Now, I am sitting here and I’ve survived many more years than I ever thought possible. Time has passed. I can breathe again. Who knew?
In those first years, time was the enemy. It moved at a snail’s pace. Every day took forever to pass. The nights moved even more slowly than the days. The exhaustion of the day would take me to sleep quickly, but only a few hours later, I would wake and lie awake for the rest of the night wondering how I would survive the rest of my time here. How would I raise our sweet boys? How would I crawl into bed every night alone? How would I ever make it through another day without his smile?
It took many years and much help from others to get where I am today. In many ways, time seems to have passed quickly. How could so much time have passed already? On days like today when I sit and remember, it feels like he was just here. As I look around my life though, there are so few signs of him anymore. Life is so different. I am so different. He is still in my heart like no other can be. He is still in our conversations. He is still ours. The thing is, this life looks so much like me now. I miss his imprint on my life. We were so different. I miss the variety. Time has cemented my will on this life now. On days like today, I wonder what would be different if he was still here. Would time feel like distance or like home?
I wonder too how he would feel about how I’m doing with all of this. There’s the quick answer…he’d be proud of how I carry on and survive…but, I’m not so sure he’d like our world with so much of my slant in it. He loved me, but he also balanced me. He saw through me. He knew when enough was enough with me. I miss having someone to call me out on my stuff. I miss that my kids don’t know “the me” that I was with him. I still think I was better then. I think my heart was softer. I think the feeling of being beholden to someone and giving them that same space in your heart, life and soul makes me better. It was such an investment of time and energy, but so worth it. Maybe it isn’t time that feels intangible without him, maybe it’s me that feels less tangible? Maybe it isn’t the movement of time that is so elusive, but it is me who feels so detached most days that I’m elusive?
I do know seventeen years ago, I made one of the best choices I ever made. I would do it many more times…even if I knew that how much pain that choice would bring. To find each other was such a lucky moment…to lose each other, not so lucky…but I still feel lucky most days.
As time continues to push me into the future, sometimes it feels my life with him was the fantasy. It feels like maybe that part of my life didn’t happen. I know this new life so well now that a life with love at my side is a distant memory. Time has cemented me into this life I created to survive losing him. It is his love that keeps me strong and hopeful. It is that memory of him loving me that gives me hope that maybe someday another will be willing to walk beside me, hold me near, and love me, even in this transformed state. The more time that passes though, the more I don’t see it happening. I know that no one will love me as he did. That’s just not how it works. New people love us in ways we never knew possible and I’ll love in new ways, but there is a tapping in my heart that the more time that passes, the longer I survive on my own, the less possible that new love will be. Time becomes concrete when I look back at it and as I become even more capable of handling life alone, I fear that I don’t even look around anymore for a different way.
Time heals? I’m still not sure. I do know that it passes whether I like it or not. Is it better or worse? Who knows? It is just different I guess. I am so different now than I was seventeen years ago as we stood together and took the risk. Time passes. Time changes me. Elusive or concrete, tangible or intangible, it still moves me forward…I will sit in it, survive it, look back at it, and continue to wonder where it will take me next.