If you were still alive, you would be coming home to find a herd of 50 or so scared and panicking goats loose and roaming the streets a block away from our house. There were a few emails from the neighborhood group flying around trying to find the owners of these goats. I almost wanted to go out and see them, but I know what you would say, “SY, it’s after 10pm. Don’t go outside by yourself!” I don’t know how anyone would not notice if their herd of 50-something goats were missing. Okay, I know I never notice if one of the animals goes missing because they escaped or I accidentally locked them up in a room or closet. In my defense, we only have 5 so when one is missing, it’s not as obvious! But, you would notice if one of the animals was missing. It's like you have a radar for these things. “Sy, I haven’t seen Jesse in an hour, he’s probably outside. Did you accidentally let him out?!” “No I didn’t! Why are you always blaming me when Jesse goes missing?!” “Because you never pay attention when you open the door and he always gets out on your watch!” Then, we would hear Jesse meowing outside, wanting to get back in! I don’t know how you are always so alert, but there have been times where I lock up one of the cats for hours or even a day without even knowing they are missing! (I know, I’m such a great parent! That’s probably why nobody trusts me with their kids!!”) 😂😆 The other day, I locked Bam Bam in the guest room when I took a suitcase to put in the guest closet. In my defense, it was dark and I didn't turn on a light, I didn't even know Bam Bam went into the room with me. I know, he follows me everywhere, he's my tail or shadow like you said! I should have known better. At least he will bang on the door; the cats just meow quietly and since I'm hard of hearing, I can't hear anything, so they get trapped for a long time!!
Today, I woke up sad that I haven’t had your fried chicken with mac and cheese in a long time (too long for my liking). When I go grocery shopping, I would get you ingredients for what I want you to cook for dinner when it was your turn to cook. You hated it when I did this. You felt like I was dictating what you should cook, and you never liked being told what to do. You preferred to decide on your own what you would cook for dinner. “SY, what if I don’t feel like fried chicken on Tuesday? What if I want to eat something else?” “You can’t tell me what you think I should cook for dinner!?! You can’t demand that I cook fried chicken on Tuesday!” “But Babe, I’m trying to save you a trip to the grocery store.” "SY, you know I prefer to buy my own ingredients when I cook. I'll go to the grocery store myself when it's my turn to cook. You don't need to buy my groceries for me. And, don't demand what I should cook!"! I never told you this, but honestly, my ultimate goal in life is for you to never ever go to the grocery store. Whenever you went grocery shopping, you come home with 3 bags of grocery for one meal. (I buy two bags of grocery for the entire week!!) Half a bag will be ingredients for the one meal you plan to cook while the remaining 2 ½ bags of grocery will be full of hostess cupcakes, cookies, sour patch kids, ice cream, sweets, soda, and whatever else I tell you to stop eating (you know, so you can live a long life and I can annoy you forever). But, whenever I asked you want you want to cook when I go grocery shopping, you would always say, “I don’t know. Monday is 2 days away, you know I don’t think that far in advance!” Which of course frustrates me because I meal plan and put together a menu for the entire week and go to the grocery store with a shopping list that I hardly deviate from. I also like to use all the ingredients I buy to make multiple meals so there’s not a lot of waste. You would buy 50 pounds of cheese to make mac and cheese one time! (I hate food waste. I don’t like throwing away food, so I would say to you, “There are people starving in third world countries and we are throwing away food!! I guess you didn’t have parents that grew up in war and famine like mine did!!” You never seemed to care enough to make sure you used up all the ingredients you would buy!!)
Also, you were also very specific about your ingredients. If I got one thing wrong, it was like the world just ended, and I don’t get fried chicken or mac and cheese or tacos or fettuccine. You would come find me and wave the incorrect ingredient in front of me and say, “SY, how can I mac and cheese with this cheese you bought? ” “But Babe, the store ran out of shredded cheddar cheese, so I got slice cheese. It all melts the same way!!” “SY, I can’t make mac and cheese with slice cheese!!” “OMG Babe, it’s the same type of cheese--just in a different format!!” "SY, I'm not making my mac and cheese with slice cheese, that's just not going to happen!!" “SY, where’s the heavy whipping cream for the fettucine sauce?” “Oh, I forgot, you can use milk!” “SY, I can’t make fettuccine sauce with milk, it won’t taste good!!” “It’s fine, it’ll be healthier anyways!” "SY, I'm not making fettuccine sauce with milk!" So, if the ingredient wasn’t to your liking, you wouldn’t cook or you would go buy the specific ingredient in the middle of cooking and come home with 3 bags of groceries when all you needed was one thing!
But if I wanted fried chicken, I would literally have to beg and plead for days before you would make it. I think you liked it when I groveled for your fried chicken. I would have to say, “Babe, I’m craving your amazing fried chicken. I already bought you the chicken and I put in on the menu for Tuesday!! Can you pretty please make me some fried chicken?! I would appreciate it so much. You’d be the best husband if you would make fried chicken for dinner on Tuesday!!” You would always make fried chicken when I asked, but you would always give me a really hard time until you make it. I would literally have to put my hands together and shake them in front of you like I was begging (I’m surprised you didn’t make me kneel down also!).
I’ve been thinking about all the meals you're good at cooking that I don’t cook well. You are really good at cooking things that require a lot of time and patience like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and fettuccine. I’m good at cooking meals that are quick and fast or something that I can stick in an oven, instant pot, or dutch oven. I don’t have the temperment to stand and deep fry chicken piece by piece and slowly stir a small pot of cheese until it melts perfectly in diary. I usually burn the chicken because I forget about it or I lose patience incessantly stirring a pot of cheese in diary on low heat. Usually when I make mac and cheese, I would stuff it in the oven, but when you cook mac and cheese, it’s over the stovetop on low heat! Don’t get me wrong, your mac and cheese is amazingly delicious but I just don’t have the patience for it!! But, what I’ve come to realize is that my new reality needs to have your fried chicken with mac and cheese and shrimp fettuccine. So, I will have to learn to find some patience and start cooking these things on my own (hopefully, I can master these dishes like you did). I will have to figure out your recipes (I would watch you sometimes), so I kinda know how you made them and what ingredients you used. But most of the time, I was never allowed in the kitchen while you were cooking. You didn’t like me ‘backseating cooking’! “SY, you do it your way, I do it my way. I don’t come in the kitchen when you are cooking and tell you how to cook. So, get out of the kitchen or else I will stop cooking and you will have nothing to eat!!”
P.S. Your Beats headphones works really well!! You bought them the Saturday before you passed. You didn’t even open the box before you passed. I was going to return them, but I decided it was the last thing you purchased before you passed, so I should keep them. It took me a couple of months after you passed before I could open the box and started using them! Just in time because my headphones at work is on its last leg! But I think I’m going to get a different pair for work, I don’t want someone to steal these and I want them at home so I can use them when I write you letters.
P.S.S. Pebbles has a new favorite spot in the backyard. She hops over the fence and lays on the hillside and sunbathes next to our neighbor's house on the left side (yes, my ‘new BFF’ that tells me all the neighborhood gossip!!) Whenever I call her name, she would perk up and her head would pop up over the fence, and she would give me that ‘why are you disturbing my sunbathing time, Mama!?! What do you want’ look.
P.S.S.S. I didn't realize there were so many different types of lightbulbs. I keep buying the wrong replacement bulbs (some lights in the same area are white and amber now, this would drive you insane if you were still alive!), and none of the step stools you've bought throughout the years and strategically placed throughout the house are tall enough for me to reach any of the light fixtures to change out the bulbs. So, YA has been the designated light bulb changer (and KT one time when he was over. I told YA I could change those bulbs myself since I could stand on the bathroom counter to reach. I didn't want him to think I was that helpless!! But, when KT was over, I figure it would be 100 times easier for him than me. I would need to get a step stool just to climb on the bathroom counter and then figure out how to remove the light fixture. And, knowing me, I would probably fall off the bathroom counter and break something! That's why you never let me do anything that required a lot of coordination (or you would supervise me like a hawk if I resisted) and all the step stools are really low. I would trip over myself while walking in tennis shoes on a perfectly paved road!)
It’s YA’s bday today, I think he’s maybe 29 now?! hahaha...just a baby! Anyways, today, I got a lot done. I started getting my craft room back in order. I unpacked three boxes. LH came over and helped installed the pegboard and a few other things around the house that you were supposed to do but didn’t get a chance. I know I used your tools that you told me not to use, but that’s what happens when you decide to die and leave me!! And, for the first time, I folded and put away my laundry on a Sunday while watching TV (something I used to do with you). So, this is a great milestone and achievement, if you ask me. I’m starting to get back to some semblance of my old routine. I know the therapist wants me to start creating new routines, but I still like my old routines and not ready for any changes yet. I’m sure over time, the routines will change, be different, and become my own, but until then, we will carry on as we were. I’m hoping that all this organizing and unpacking of my stuff will help me to find the strength and courage to start tackling your stuff. I go and look at all your stuff in our bedroom and closet, the utility room, and the man room. You don’t know how often I look into these rooms, take in a big sigh, and ask myself, "When will I find the strength and courage to go through his stuff?!” So, I’m hoping that by organizing my stuff first, I will slowly start into your stuff without even knowing it. It will just happen and I don’t have to fixate on it anymore either.
Anyways babe, it’s getting really late and I have a big week coming up at work! So, I’m going to bed, but we will chat more later. I love and miss you so much!
It’s my sister’s bday today!!! And it’s the first anniversary of our house! I can’t believe it’s already been a year since we bought this house. On Monday, it will be one year since we started living here (well, at least for me!). I’ve been struggling a bit this week. I feel like I’m at the crossroads. You’re probably thinking, “Crossroads?! Didn’t you just say there’s no fork in the road anymore?! How can you be at the crossroads?!” Well, like I said, grief is unpredictable and anything goes. I was happy that I wasn’t scared to face my new reality anymore, but then I realize facing my new reality SUCKS bigger than being afraid of it. Anyways, I can hear you know, “Why do you feel like you’re at the crossroads, SY?” I’ve just been thinking a lot about what I’m going to do next?! What do I want to do with my life? What do I want it to look like? It’s like I said before, “I have a blank slate now, and I can do anything I want! Tabula Rasa, baby!!” Do I just go and do whatever I want without any thoughts or regards to what you want, or do I still keep moving with what we’ve already planned and agreed on?! I think I’m in panic mode again--freaking out about what to do next. I know, I haven’t even opened the door yet, and I’m already going a mile a minute. Are you surprised?! I haven’t even taken one step forward yet, but my mind is already 20 steps ahead.
Yesterday, I decided I was going to frame the canvas photo from our wedding. I decided it was something I still wanted to do. So, when I walked to get the canvas from the guest bedroom, I started getting emotional just walking into the hallway. By the time I grabbed the canvas from the closet, I was already crying. I ended up sitting on the bed, hugging the photo, and crying uncontrollably. When I turned my head towards the closet again, I saw the broom we jumped over at our wedding. I was reminded of how I was robbed of my future. How the universe stole everything from me. How I’m left with nothing but shattered dreams and a life unfulfilled. Somehow, I was able to pull it together and get ready to leave. As I walked through the ‘sitting room’ to turn the alarm on, I saw all the tubes of things I had planned to frame as well, the poster I got of our wedding photos, the sketch of our first ‘family photo’ with the babies, and a poster your cousin JH bought you. I decided I was going to frame it all. It was something I had already planned on doing, so they could be hung up in the house. I decided that even though you aren’t here anymore, I will still going to put up our wedding photos since that’s what I had planned on doing when the remodel was done. Maybe they won’t stay up forever, but they will go up until I’m ready to take them down. I decided that I can’t even begin to think about what my life would look like if I hadn’t even finished this one yet. So, I decided I was going to decorate the house the way I wanted to before you passed. Even if I hadn’t discussed the details or specifics with you, I already told you in general what I wanted. So, whether you liked the ideas or not, I’m moving forward with it. And the things you wanted that I didn’t like, well, I’m not going to do them!! That’s what you get for dying on me. (You know, I forget how easy it is to make unilateral decisions.)
The only way I could get over your death was to believe that it was a life completed instead of a life interrupted. I look back on the last month of your life and see how you were able to close out your business without even knowing it. You got to show your mom how much you loved and appreciated her by throwing her a surprise 70th birthday party. At the party, you were able to see your family one last time before you passed. A few days before you passed, we got into an argument, but as a result, you were able to tell me how much you loved me and how I was your ‘everything’. A month before you passed, you mentioned that if you got a new car, you would give Lexi to your brother. And, on numerous occasions, you told me to cremate you and ‘pull the plug’ if you couldn’t live the life you’re living now. In my mind, you made your wishes known, and you closed out your business. So, your life was completed and not interrupted. But, what about me?! My life wasn’t completed; it was definitely interrupted. How can I even begin to write a new chapter, when I haven’t even finished writing the ending to this one.
My slate isn’t blank yet. It was interrupted, and I’m not ready to erase what’s already written or what was going to be written. I have to keep going until this life is finished. I can’t abandon our life unfinished. I have to see it through to the end before I can close this chapter and open a new one.
Anyways Babe, you know I was just joking about the unilateral decision comment. I don’t know which is worse, you nagging and disagreeing with me when you’re alive or when you’re dead. Whenever I do anything that I know you wouldn’t like or agree with, I can’t seem to get your voice out of my head. When you were alive, I can at least roll my eyes or talk back to you, and if I didn’t listen to you (which was often), I wouldn’t feel bad or guilty about it.
Also, can you visit the babies in their dreams and tell them to listen to mommy because they’re all going rogue. A little help on your part would be nice!
Yes, I know I haven’t taken out the safe deposit box key from your mini yet. I know I keep opening the compartment and looking at the key, but I don’t know why I can’t take it out. I’m just not ready to take it out yet. But, I will when I’m ready, I promise!
Okay, if I knew why I’m fixated on staring at my wedding ring on my finger again, I would tell you, but honestly, I have no clue. I don’t know why I’m fixated on staring at my wedding ring on my finger either.
So grief without fear has been interesting. If anything, it’s worse if you ask me! All I do is think about you -- it’s like I’m obsessed with staring at the door and thinking about how you’re not here. Before, I was scared to look at it, so I couldn't even think about you not coming home because I would panic and feel like I was falling apart into a million pieces, so I shut it out of my mind and only thought of you as being away on a business trip. But, now that reality has sunken in, it’s all I think about--you’re not here anymore; you're never coming home. I’ve become obsessed with staring at the door. I spend all day fixating on it. I even cry when I drive to work now. Today, I even started crying as I was walking to my car. I didn’t even make it to the car yet when tears started rolling down my face. **SIGH** Did I tell you how much grief SUCKS and I HATE it! Can you please make it stop?!
You know, I’m constantly looking for trends and patterns, so I can predict what’s instore for me (occupational hazard, I guess), but what I’ve come to realize these last few months is that grief has no pattern or trend. When I think I figured it out, it constantly changes, and I have a new set of data points to plot that makes no sense. They’re all anomalies and outliers, making the histogram even more scattered and illogical. Now that I’m thinking about it, what if anxiety Thursdays was all in my head?! I needed a pattern so bad that it became a self fulfilling prophecy, and I just didn’t know it!?! I concluded that grief has no pattern or trend. I can’t predict what’s going to happen next (no matter how hard I try. And trust me, I've tried!!). Even when I think I’ve reached a new milestone in this journey, I realize the next part is even worse than the last part! At least with fear as my boundary, I’m too scared to look or even go there. When you take fear away from grief, the pain has no end in sight. It’s just deep, dark, and endless. I don’t feel like I'm drowning or being pulled underwater by a tide anymore. Instead, grief has tied a 500 pound weight to my legs and dumped me in the ocean, and I'm being dragged to the bottom. There's no use in resisting. I’m just sinking deeper and deeper to the ocean floor.
The endless pain and grief puts my thoughts and emotions on overdrive. So many ideas and thoughts are swirling around in my head that I can’t grab on to anything; they’re all frantically dancing and swirling around at top speed. If you were here, you would tell me, “SY, STOP! Get a hold of yourself. You’re going a mile a minute. FOCUS!!” It’s been really hard to get a hold of myself or to focus since I don’t even know how I feel anymore. I don’t even know if I’m okay or if I’m crashing and burning. I started crying myself to sleep again, crying in the car has reached an all time high, I think of you constantly, I keep seeing myself hysterical and 'out of my mind' throughout this whole ordeal from the hospital to the memorial service to the aftermath. I keep flashing back to my crazy lady rants at the hospital, seeing your lifeless body covered in a white sheet with just your head visible (why do they do that?! Why is a dead body covered in a white sheet?! What does that signify and where did it even originate from?!), the breakdown I had crossing the street to your memorial service. I think about it all. It's like I'm watching the ending of our story over and over again on repeat. I miss and yearn for you so much now, it hurts. Before, I wouldn't even dare yearn for you because I was afraid I would die myself or breakdown into a million pieces, it was just too much to bear that I would always push the thoughts aside. Fear helped me do that - push the grief aside. But now that I've reached a new low in the grief process, it's all I think about. How much I want you back so badly it hurts. Now, all I think about is "WTF, he’s not coming home! WTF am I going to do now?!" Hence the constant fixation and obsession with the door and the road where you don’t exist and is never coming home. I don't even know how I'm going to feel from one minute to the next. I can be crying and unable to control my emotions to just pulling it all together and smiling like the world is all fine and AMAZING in an instant now!! It’s like I’m Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I can cry one minute and be happy the next without any rhyme or reason.
I guess when my therapist said 'grief makes you psychotic,' she wasn’t joking!
It’s even hard to write now when I can barely focus or keep my thoughts straight. My thoughts and emotions are so scattered that it's hard to even try to collect them. I don't even know how I'm feeling?! I can be fine one minute and start crying for no reason the next. If I didn’t find the warrior instead of me, I think I would have died from anxiety from all the chaos raging inside of me.
Today I felt like I reached a new milestone in my grief process (if there’s such a thing, but whatever!!) I’m no longer afraid or scared to look at the door where you don’t exist. I’m able face my new reality without terror or being paralyzed or frozen from fear or feeling like I’m going to break into a million pieces. I might not be ready to do much else but look at the door and know it’s there, but it’s the first step! (Hey, I have to celebrate every small progress I make...because it’s about the baby steps!)
I told you Babe, I will recalibrate when needed. I know I jumped into a lot of things fast and quickly, but like I said before, sometimes you just have to rip the bandaid off and jump off the cliff. You won’t know how it will feel unless you do it. Once you know how it feels, you can recalibrate accordingly, and that’s what I’ve been doing in April--recalibrating! I decided I needed more time for myself, so I said no to invites to go out or do things and was more selective on how I spent my time if I decided to go out. (Let me tell you, my social calendar in March was on overdrive, I guess you become very popular when you’re a newly widowed person.) I also requested more remote days from work since I felt overwhelmed by all the pain and grief that was being bottled up from having my ‘game face’ on at work. And, I was just exhausted from the travel also. (Travel requires being ‘on’ literally all day since you tend to go out to dinner / happy hour with coworkers after the work day is over coupled with the timezone and working two shifts (US and China shifts), it’s just exhausting. Whoever said there’s glamour and glory in work travel hasn’t worked traveled enough.) So, I’ve been fortunate to have a sympathetic boss and workplace; not everybody has the luxury. And, of course the baby steps...wheat bread, organic milk, lentil soup, telling strangers and lyft drivers that my husband died, and giving away your things to family / friends. At the time, it just felt like I was going through the motions. It didn’t feel meaningful, and it definitely didn’t make me feel any better; if anything, it made me feel worse!! Honestly, I was going to tell my therapist this week that none of it has helped. I still get paralyzed and frozen with fear and I still feel like I will break into a million pieces whenever I think about you not coming home. I was going to tell her that I refuse to continue doing these things because they make me feel worse, and they don’t seem to be helping me in any way. But, somehow it all clicked on Sunday night. It was like my heart and my mind synced at that moment (but it doesn’t mean they won’t get out of sync again, just that they synced at that moment in time)! So, now that the fear is gone, my therapist says I can just focus on grieving. I was coupling the two emotions together, thinking that they were linked, but they’re not. They’re two different emotions that just happened coincidentally at the same time after you passed. Now, I can breathe again. I can focus on what my new reality will look and feel like, and I can continue writing my story and celebrating your life.
Does this mean I won’t be afraid again at some point in time through this grief process?! Nope! Fear is always around the corner, but now I know it doesn’t have to become the boundary that holds me hostage or imprisons me. Does this mean I’m okay and I’m over you? Far from it! This just means I’m okay with not being okay. That I will cry when I need to and not be afraid that I can’t stop or that I will fall into pieces. That I’m not afraid to say this is my story and it HELLA sucks, and I hate and curse the universe. But, this is my story; the ending to this chapter has been written in stone, I can’t change it, and I can’t escape it. But, I don’t have to be afraid of it. I don’t have to let it take me down. I don’t have to let it break me.
My therapist took this time to remind me that the pain never really goes away. It doesn’t end or disappear. I don’t wake up one day and it’s gone. It just becomes a part of me, of who I am. It’s a scar that permanently resides in my heart that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I just learn how to manage and control the pain, so it doesn’t become all-consuming and catastrophic everytime it hits me. Now, I can see why the Mandy Moore character in This is Us wanted to say, “I’m hanging in there” even after 8+ years later. I have to constantly remind myself that I’ve barely scratched the surface and that my journey has only just begun.
So, in summary, my secret recipe for grief so far is:
I’m sure there’s more, but this is all I can think of right now!
P.S. Thanks for letting me know where your safe deposit key is. Since you passed away, I’ve been thinking of all the possible places you could have put your key. To be quite honest, I would never have guessed it would be where it was. I’ve driven your Mini twice a week for the last few months, and for some odd reason, something told me to open this compartment in your Mini after I pulled into a parking spot at the grocery store last Sunday. I just sat there and thought to myself, why do I feel the urge to open this compartment that I’ve never noticed or cared about since I’ve been driving the car?! But, you know, I can’t resist the temptation, so I opened it. And there it was, our safe deposit box key. I just smiled and said, “Thanks Babe! You knew I was looking for it.” Now, all I need to know is the six-digit code to unlock your iPhone. I’ll be waiting for you to tell me, but don’t take as long as it took for you to tell me where the safe deposit key was.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. It’s been awhile since I cried myself to sleep, but last night, I’m not sure what came over me, but I just started crying when I got into bed. I think I realized that I took a step towards the world where you don’t exist anymore. Without knowing, I walked to the door and have my hand on the doorknob. The baby steps that the therapist recommended actually worked. (I know, I really need to listen to her more!) I got to the door and I didn’t freak out or panic or become hysterical. I think the pain and tears this time wasn’t because you died, but realizing that you’re never coming home. That this is my new reality. There’s no time machine or Earth 2 or any other alternate ending to our story. The nightmare is real. I’m finally awake. I was an emotional wreck today, I was in tears driving all the way to work (I hadn’t cried on the way to work since the first week I went back to work after bereavement leave). I had to pull myself together while I was crossing the bridge and get myself mentally prepared to talk through the doors. I couldn’t even get a handle over my emotions, I was still wiping away tears behind my sunglasses as I was walking through the lobby door.
My therapist wants me to acknowledge that the door to where you don’t exist is there. She wants me to not be afraid of it, to look at it and just acknowledge it’s there. I don’t have to open it or walk through it, I just have to know it’s there. And somehow, without even knowing or realizing it, it occurred to me last night as I was getting into bed that I was no longer afraid or scared when I thought about you never coming home. My heart didn’t beat uncontrollably and I didn’t break down in fear or panic. Before, the mere thought would paralyze and frighten me to the point where I would become hysterical or feel like I’m crumbling into a million pieces. I was resistant to try what the therapist recommended, and even when I was going through the process, I was very reluctant and didn’t think it was working or helping, since I felt like I was just going through the motions. But, somehow I went to bed last night and just started crying profusely for no apparent reason. I wasn’t sad. There were no triggers. Nothing seemed out of place except when I think about a world where you don’t exist, my heart no longer races, and I’m not paralyzed or frozen by fear. I realize how being home alone and doing things on my own seems normal now. I realized that I’m facing the door where you don't exist and I’ve started to walk towards it. I think my heart finally got the memo that you’re never coming home. I finally stepped out of the airstream and the sun is shining on my face as I stare on the only path I can take. The fork in the road is no longer a fork; it’s just one road now, and all I have to do is take my first step whenever I’m ready.
I guess the baby steps and channelling all the strength and courage I could find and muster really worked. This month, I’ve been focusing on getting to know myself again. Trying to figure out who's the person staring back at me in the mirror. I've been reflecting on my life and the journey I’ve taken to get to where I am right now. Realizing that all the peaks, successes, and accomplishments in my life never came without walking the valleys and enduring the struggles. This may be one of the deepest valley I have to walk thru thus far in my life, and I know that I haven’t even hit the bottom of the valley yet, but at least I know I have the tools to endure and conquer the pain and struggles that lay ahead of me. I just had to remember who my 20-something self was. The girl before she met you. The girl that used to love a good fight, who always had her boxing gloves on. She was a survivor. She never let fear become her boundaries. She might have grown soft over the years, but she still has one last fight in her. This is the fight of her life. She refuses to back down or give up or let the universe break her. She just has to remember...She is a fighter...She is a survivor!!
I used to always wonder and ask you, “How did we get here?” And you would always say, “No clue?!” We just laugh and are amazed at how we’re even where we are. Seeing us from the outside, we don’t have a lot in common. You like sports, cars, and all things manly. I like to knit, crochet, sew, and all things craftsy. You’re a hoarder and I try to be a minimalist (yes, the operative word is ‘try’). You love to go shopping and I avoid the mall at all cost. I’m very meticulous, orderly, process-oriented, and methodical (at least in my head), and you lack patience for all of these things. I’m rash and make decisions quickly and on the fly with whatever information I have whereas you tend to overthink, contemplate every itty bitty piece of information, and want all the details and nuances before you can make a decision (which was always very annoying to me!!). I move at the speed of light and you tend to move at the speed of snail (at least that’s what it seemed like in my head). You like to hold on to everything, you don't know how to let go of anything. Even when I throw things away that are broken, you pull it out of the trash and put it away because you're 'going to fix it!!' Nothing gets fixed and I'm just stuck with a house full of STUFF!! I throw everything away, I don't like to hold on to anything. I like to live with the least amount of attachments since that's what the Dali Lama says is the art of happiness.
You love watching TV, this was your thing; your favorite pastime. When I met you, I didn't watch TV at all. I remember when we first started dating, you were in town during the end of March Madness, and you were planning on watching the game at my apartment. Only to find out I didn’t have cable and the TV was only to watch movies on DVD. (Yup, that’s how long ago it was when we first met! DVDs?! And, cell phones weren’t smart yet, and we still had landlines at home, and you would call and leave me messages on my answering machine.) “What do you mean you don’t have cable? You have a TV?! How am I supposed to watch the Fantastic 4?” (you know what I mean babe, the end of March Madness - I always call it the Fantastic 4, but I think you call it something else.) So, you decided to go watch the game at the local bar down the street, not quite grasping that I live in Hillcrest, which is the Castro of San Diego, and it turns out, all the big screen TVs were showing the Home Shopping Network and the game was on a tiny TV behind the bar. When you got back, I said, “The game is over already?” You said, “No, they played the home shopping network on the big screen TVs, and I got tired of trying to watch the game on the little screen behind the bar because the bartender was always in the way.” We still laugh at that story even 14+ years later. But look at me now, we have the biggest cable package known to mankind (at least in my mind!) and I watch all sorts of shows on TV now. Anytime I’m trying to get stuff done around the house, all I hear you say is, “Babe, come watch TV with me.” Yes, I know you have other interests like cars, fishes, sports (you were definitely a big time sports fanatic; you’d watch tennis and golf in the off season). No babe, I won’t tell people the story about the line of scrimmage. How was I supposed to know it was only computer generated for TV viewing pleasure.
But if there’s one passion we shared, it was FOOD!! I mean, look at us, we put on so much weight since we’ve met. We used to lay and cuddle on the sofa but we don’t fit anymore!! You would say, “This is what happiness looks like!” You used to rub my belly like I was a Buddha and give me that smile and look that says, “geesh babe, you’ve put on weight!” After a few years, it got old and I finally made you stop (even though it probably took another few years of me yelling, “Stop!” before you finally stopped!) We love to explore new foods and we would drive all over the place to get good food. One year, we made a one day round-trip drive to Sparks, NV for the BBQ cook-off. Who does that?! We would also drive all the way to San Jose for Boiling Crab and wait two hours to get seated (that’s a total of 3 hours of waiting and driving before we even got seated)! Who does that?! Overtime, you experimented with your own seafood boil recipes and we just started making it at home ourselves. You introduced me to roasted crab and garlic noodles at Thanh Long (even though I still think my grandfather’s crab is better!). Over time, I mastered the roasted crab and garlic noodle recipe and we would just make it at home ourselves. We also enjoyed going to the Girl and the Fig in Sonoma after doing our rounds of wine tasting and buying olive oil and flavored balsamic vinegar from the Olive Press. One thing I have to say is, “I love having a husband that cooks,” sharing the burden of feeding us was great! My only complaint is that you didn’t know how to clean the dishes though (You refused to use the dishwasher, so you did the dishes by hand. I would always take everything you cleaned by hand and load it into the dishwasher when you weren’t looking. And, loading the dishwasher is considered doing dishes, okay babe!--even if you didn’t think so, the dishes were cleaned, so that’s doing the dishes). Actually, I have another complaint, why do you feel the need to use every since pot, pan, and cooking utensil we have to cook one meal. By the time you’re done cooking, it looks like you should have made a 5-course gourmet meal and not just spaghetti and meatballs (but I guess that’s what happens when you only cook and don’t do the dishes. I know, your response is, “You don’t like the way I do dishes.”) One thing I will definitely miss is your fried chicken. I used to have to beg and plead for you to make fried chicken and mac ‘n’ cheese.
Travel - now that’s my passion! When I met you, you didn’t even have a passport. Who doesn’t have a passport? Come to find out, you have a fear of flying (yes you do babe, even though you hid it will). I finally convinced you to go on a trip to Belize. The carrot I dangled was that you would get to spend part of the trip doing nothing but lay on the beach and drink tropical alcoholic beverages with those fake umbrellas in it. But what I didn’t tell you was that we were “roughing it” during my portion of the trip, which was before your portion of “doing nothing but drink tropical alcoholic beverages on the beach.” I remember when we arrived at the eco-lodge in the middle of the jungle in Punta Gorda after taking a small crop plane then a car ride through a muddy dirt road and a boat ride through the Mojo river, you said to me, “SY, I don’t see a hotel or room service anywhere!” Then I said, “Surprise babe, we’re staying in huts in the middle of the jungle with no TV or wifi, and we have to eat communally with the other guests!” Let’s just say, you weren’t too thrilled about any of it, but by the end of the trip, I know you loved it (no matter what you say)! And that’s how the rest of our annual vacations went, the beginning was always my adventurous and crazy vacation, and the end was your reward, lounging on a beach or at pool somewhere with room service and all the amenities. You didn't even have a passport when we first met, but now all you can talk about is where is our next vacation destination. Our last trip together was our honeymoon in Cuba. Cuba was just starting to slowly open up, and you wanted to see it while it was still a time capsule and before it got too touristy. You had an amazing time and got to see all the old skool cars. You were like a little kid in the candy store. I’m glad we got to go to Cuba since it was on your bucket list, and we had planned to go there again 5 years later to see how much it would change. We didn’t travel much after our honeymoon. Life got really real with the death of your aunt G and step-mom and then my grandma’s rapidly deteriorating health. We were planning to kicking off our annual vacations again this year, and I always wanted to take you to Southeast Asia since it’s my favorite region to travel in. I also wanted to take you to Cambodia and show you where I was born, but I guess that will never happen now. We always thought we had more time and that travel could wait, so we could take care of business at home when things got real these last couple of years. But, now looking back, we still should have continued traveling and not put it off, because nothing in life is guaranteed.
But at the end of the day, one thing I learned about us was that although we had very different interests, passions, and hobbies, we were built on very similar core principles that guided the way we chose to live our life. We always lived life fully and without abandon. We were very individualistic and marched to the beat of our own drum (even if at times we weren’t in unison, we still marched to our own personal beat until our beat met and aligned again). We never compromised ourselves, our principles, or our beliefs to fit into societal norms or constructs, and above all, family and friends always came first. These are the guiding principles that are fundamental to our core values and principles; these are the guiding principles that binds us together. These are the things that aren’t obvious when you first meet us, but they are the things that lay below the surface that you learn about us overtime.
Yesterday, I watched an episode of Bull where they were defending an abused wife who shot her husband in the back while he was sleeping. Then she slept next to him while he bled out. Yeah, I guess she was done being his punching bag. Whenever we watched shows or movies with abused wives and/or kids and sexual assault, you would always get so angry and say, “I wished he picked on someone his own size. Let’s see how powerful he feels then!” Sometimes, if it was very disturbing, you would even get to the point where you would say, “I wish I was there so I can knock him out, so he knows how it feels!” I can’t even imagine the pain, the suffering, the fear, and the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness each victim must feel and undergo on a daily basis, especially when the perpetrator is someone they love, who’s supposed to love and protect them for the rest of their life. I have to admit, if there was one thing you took very seriously in life, it was my safety!! I think a lot of people can attest to how overly protective you can be when my safety was involved. (I think you would cringe if I told you, I accidentally left the front door unlock for days without even knowing it. I would have gotten a lecture about this for days if you were still alive.) If I came home after it was dark, the porch light would always be on and if it took me longer than 3 mins to get inside the house, you would open the door and watch me get out of my car and into the house. If I drove to So Cal by myself, you would check all the fluids and lights on my car to make sure there were no issues, and you would also make me take your backpack with all your search and rescue stuff just in case something happened on the drive (you made it seem like I would even know how to use half the stuff in there). Me, on the other hand, I could barely remember to lock the doors, so your safety was the last thing on my mind. You would get sad and mopey whenever you felt I didn't care about your safety. If you came home and the porch light wasn't on, you'd say, "I guess you don't care if I get through the door safely or not." And I would say, "What are you talking about?!" You would say, "You don't even care enough to leave the porch light on for me!" Then I would say, "Babe, you're 6'4", I don't think anybody would try to grab or kidnap or rape or molest you. If anything, they would be scared you would attack them back if they tried." Then you would say, "That's not the point. The point is I always remember to leave the porch light on for you when you come home late or after dark!" So, to settle this dispute and not have to hear you tell say I don't love or care about you, I bought smart light bulbs and set-up a schedule, so I wouldn't have to remember to turn on the porch light everyday and you would know that I do care about you and your safety. Another secret to a happy and successful marriage!!
As you know, I’m erratic, I wear my emotions on my sleeves, and I have no control whatsoever over my words and emotions when I’m upset or mad. I’m always on the defensive with my boxing gloves on, ready for a fight. I would argue with someone for cutting in front of me in line. (I blame it on being raised by a bunch of alpha-females. It was survival of the fittest in my family. There are two types of personalities in my family. You’re either aggressive and have your boxing gloves on all the time, ready for a fight or you’re passive and get trampled on. There’s really nothing in between.) You, on the other hand, was always calm, cool, collected, even keel, and mindful of your words and tone, even when you were mad or upset. You rarely raised your voice and never call me ‘out of my name.' I think you yelled at me twice in the time we've been together. And, when I say “yell” -- you raised your voice like 2-3 octivals and spoke very calmly an succinctly, most of the time, it was just to tell me to ‘calm down’ or stop calling you ‘out of your name’ when I’m unleashing my “SY craziness” on you. I wouldn’t care, I would call you whatever name comes to my mind at that instance. Your famous line to me whenever I got a little too crazy was, “SY, I don’t call you ‘out of your name,’ so don’t call me ‘out of my name.’” You even threatened that one day you were going to call me ‘out of my name’ just so I know how it felt, but you never did. I think the only time you lose your ‘cool’ is in the car. You had some serious road rage issues, maybe that’s where you let it all out at.
I think that’s why we rarely fight, it was no fun to fight with you. You never lost your cool. I would be full of passion, yelling and screaming. I would try to get you all riled up, so I can get a reaction from you, but it never really happened. I’m not saying you never said anything harsh to me, cause you have, but it was always delivered calmly and cooly. One thing we never did was ‘hit below the belt’ when we fought! We always fought fairly when we were in the ring together. I did most of the punching (that’s just how my personality is, remember, I always have boxing gloves on) and you would sit and listen and asked if I was done so you could speak. I think you wore me down over the years; I lost the ‘fight’ in me, and I became less argumentative and more chill and laid back. I remember one time when I was home visiting my family, one of my aunts got in my face. It was the first time I sat there in silence and shock without a comeback. I was no longer a survivor, I was being eaten alive by the wolves. Let’s just say, I never let that happened again, but I also learned how to ‘tame the beast’ when I was visiting my family, so it helped me stay out of trouble as well. Yes, I know, you get the credit for teaching me how to 'tame the beast' within me. I don't know how you did it but you did. (I think my mom should thank you for taming me, she always tried but never could.)
It’s funny to hear stories about when you were younger. Your family said you were very quiet and just read all day long when you were a kid. Your mom said it was hard to punish you, since sending you to your room never felt like a punishment since would just you read all day long anyways, so it didn’t bother you at all. Your cousin RJ said, “S read so much, we thought he was going to be a rocket scientist when he grows up!!” (You know I was rolling on the floor laughing when I heard this. To me, you were always the jock, never the nerd, so I can’t even imagine it!) Your aunt JJ says that you would read underneath the bunk bed (like on the floor under the bed) to get some peace and quiet while the other kids were playing. Your step-mom said you were quiet and didn’t blossom until you discovered girls, who starting flocking all over you when you became a rising track star in high school. She said all the girls would be shouting your name at the track meet. (Like I said, if you were a pro baller or professional athlete, we would never have met or you would never have noticed me since you would be too busy with all the ‘groupies.’) I’m sure it’s hard for a lot of people to see you as quiet and nerdy since you have such an outgoing and boisterous personality now. You light up any room you walk into!
I, on the other hand, was a rebel child growing up. I was always testing and pushing the limits of my boundaries. I always had to have the last word and never let anyone step on my toes. My mom said I was the hardest child to raise; she could never break me (and I assure you, she tried very hard also). I was a wild horse she couldn’t tame. If anyone said anything I didn’t like, I would always talk back, even to my elders. I refuse to put up with anything that I thought was ignorant or nonsense. You were shocked when you found out I was a crazy rebel child, but in my defense, my sister exaggerated a lot of the stories to make me seem even meaner and crazier than I really was. She only told you what I did, but never what she did to provoke me. It’s really hard to believe how tight my sister and I are now if you knew how we tortured each other when we were growing up!! I call it fighting for shared resources, remember, it was survival of the fittest in my family!!. Anyways, I spent most of my adolescence and young adulthood on some sort of spiritual quest or journey. I always trying to ‘find myself’ and search for ‘the meaning of life.’ This was the part of my young adulthood that you always like to make fun of. Whenever I tell you stories about my college days, you would always laugh and say, “Why is every story you tell me about college always about you and your friends trying to find yourself?! Was it really that hard?! Did you really not know who you were?!” I would just give you my sarcastic look whenever you said this!
Yes Babe, I’m always trying to figure out the meaning of life. Like why are we here? What is our purpose? Why do we suffer? Why do we have to die? Why does life and death have an inverse relationship? Why does our mind, heart, and soul grow stronger with wisdom and knowledge while our body defies us and grows weaker and more tired as we age. I feel like I’ve spent my entire adolescence and 20’s trying to find the answers to these questions, but I never really made any headways on answering these questions. If anything, I started to lose steam and stopped questioning when I was in my 30’s. I started to become more of a realist and a cynic in my 30’s. I went from questioning life to just existing. I think part of the reason why I always wrestled with the idea of having children was my inability to find meaningful answers to these questions. I struggle with bringing children into the world when I can’t even find or understand my own meaning and purpose in life. It just feels so bleak to raise children in a world where they will suffer and die. It's the notion that you give death when you give birth, and the idea that each day you live is the closer you are to death. I know, so morbid, right?! But that’s how I feel and think when it comes to having kids. For you, you were always scared that if we had kids, they would be psychopaths or serial killers. (I think you watched too many Criminal Minds and CSI shows.) But, I think the biggest fear we both shared about having children was our inability to overcome the pain and sorrow if anything ever happened to them. I think this fear coupled with the knowledge and understanding of the great responsibility and sacrifice it takes to raise thriving and productive people was just too much responsibility for us. We figured if we were meant to be parents, it would happen; just like getting married. So, we didn't worry too much about being parents.
After you passed, for a brief second, it dawned on me that we would never have any kids together. We would have no legacy to leave behind. No one to continue our story or keep our memory alive. Nothing to say we existed together in this world. But, eventually, I came to accept that we made a conscious decision together, and we knew and understood the consequences of our decision. We always felt we had everything we wanted and needed with each other. We didn’t need children to make us feel whole or complete. And, to be quite honest, I can’t imagine being a single-parent right now, I can barely manage the animals on my own. I remember a scene from This is Us, where Mandy Moore’s character is scared of crossing the bridge, so she always closed her eyes when they drove across the bridge (yes babe, of course her husband was driving and not her). But after her husband died, she didn't have time to be scared. She had kids and she was now the mother and the father, so she found the strength and had to conquer her fear. She drove herself and her kids across the bridge and she didn't even flinch (this was shortly after his memorial service). I remember I could barely leave the house after you passed. I couldn’t even go to therapy. I cancelled a few times because whenever I got ready to leave to the house, I become hysterical. The therapist got to the point where she was determined to see me, whether it was in her office or at our house, but she was going to see me one way or another. Before I could leave the house, I had to mentally prepare myself for days since I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to come back if I left. Just coming home from the hospital after you died was such an ordeal that I wasn’t sure if I could do it a second time. So, in all honestly, I’m glad we don’t have kids. I think this experience would be a million times harder, just watching the animals grieve for you was hard enough. I don’t think I could deal with any of this if there were kids involved.
Okay, I was a little harsh yesterday, you didn’t break my heart the second time. You just left my heart empty and hollow. A pain and emptiness I’ve never known before that runs so deep, I’m always amazed at how deep it can go, even when I think I’ve hit rock bottom, I realize I’ve barely scratched the surface.
I often think about this quote I picked for your memorial program:
“You never know how the loss will come, whether he will lose you or you him,
but it is a certainty that there will be a shattering involuntary separation.
Death is the abandonment caused not by betrayal but by fidelity.”
There are times I hate you for leaving me here all alone. For abandoning me and forcing me to fend this world alone. You were supposed to be my partner in life, but you left. You're gone and I'm here all alone to pick up the pieces by myself and try to put it back together. I don't even know where to start or how it will end, but I know it just needs to happen. It's like learning how to walk again. I have to constantly remind myself that you didn't choose to leave. That this was an involuntary separation, and I need to find it in my heart to forgive you (even though its hard, I will work on it!)
You know that magnet and mug I have with the proverb that says, “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” I fell in love with that message because of a story I read when I was a kid. It was about a boy who found a caterpillar and kept it in a jar as a pet. He watched and fed the caterpillar everyday. One day, the caterpillar started acting strangely, so he called his mom and she explained that the caterpillar was creating its cocoon, so it can start its metamorphosis into a butterfly. So, the boy was excited and watched the cocoon everyday in anticipation of the butterfly emerging. When it finally happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon, and the boy saw that the butterfly was struggling to break free. The butterfly looked desperate; like it wasn’t going to make it. After days of what seemed like no progress, the boy was concerned and with good intention took a pair of scissors to helped make the hole bigger so the butterfly could emerge from its cocoon. When the butterfly emerged from its cocoon, it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. The boy continued to watch in anticipation that the butterfly’s wings would expand and enlarge so it could fly, but it never happened. It turns out, the boy’s good intentions actually forced the butterfly to prematurely leave its cocoon, so it didn’t get the chance to struggle and fight its way out of the cocoon. The butterfly’s struggle to break free from the cocoon is nature’s way of preparing and strengthening the butterfly’s wings for flying. Without the struggle, the butterfly wasn’t able to fully develop its wings. Instead of flying like it’s meant to be, the butterfly was crippled for life and never able to fly or fulfill its destiny. So, the moral of the story is to not ask for help and go about this journey on my own!! Just kidding!! 😬😆 In all seriousness, obviously the moral of the story is that struggle is good. Struggle is what builds and strengthens our character. It helps us overcome the obstacles that life throws our way, so we can reach our fullest potential and fulfill our destiny. I truly believe this and have always held this story close to my heart whenever I’m facing adversity or watching someone else face adversity. Knowing that helping and asking for help is a delicate balance that needs to be treaded lightly. At the end of the day, I truly believe we can only help ourselves. People can help and support, but nobody can pull us out of the hole unless we want to leave it.
I’ve had that magnet on our fridge for as long as I could remember (which reminds me, I need to find it and put it up again. It’s probably in one of the boxes that we’ve yet to unpack from our move). Everytime I used to see it on our fridge at the old house, it always brought a smile to my face since I’ve always felt that was our story. When we broke up and I resigned from Skyline, I truly thought my life was over (again, I was only 20-something, so pardon the sappiness). You also made some big changes in your life when we parted ways. We both thought the world was over, but in the end, it all worked out. We ended up getting back together and building an amazing life together. We struggled and overcame the odds and obstacles. We put in the work, and we persevered individually and as a couple to get to where we are, and you and I both know that it was a lot of hard work and perseverance to get to where we are now! Sometimes, I’m amazed at how far we've actually made it!! (Although, I would have to say, “‘til death do us part came way too early in our case!”) So, now I have to constantly remind myself of this story and the proverb. It used to serve as a reminder that we overcame our struggle in the cocoon and emerged as butterflies, but now, I have to use it as a constant reminder that I’m back in the cocoon. This struggle and pain I’m going through is the universe’s way of preparing and strengthening me for the next chapter I’m about to embark on. I can’t push myself before I’m ready, and I can’t stop the struggle from happening if I want to emerge as a butterfly on the other end (even if it’s without you, I would still prefer to be a butterfly that can fly than one that is crippled and grounded for life. Remember, I refuse to be that girl that lets a boy dictate her life!! 😜😜)
Sometimes I wonder if I would ever run out of words or tears for you?! I don’t know, maybe one day I will. May I won’t. I guess only time will tell. When your mom was over on Tuesday, she said, “One day, when you least expect, everything will be clear again. It can happen anywhere and at anytime. When this moment of clarity comes, you will know what you need to do.” I guess that’s all I can really do--wait for the ‘clarity’ to come. Until then, I’ll just continue to live in the fog and haze, the ‘middle room’, the fork in the road, the fear of living in a world where you don’t exist--whatever you want to call it.
When I was younger, maybe in my early 20’s, I remember reading a story (maybe you can call it a parable) about two guys. One guy had a heart that was damaged, it had holes and patches all over it, like it had gone through the wringer and back. The other guy had a perfectly pristine heart; there were no marks or damage on it. The story asks which person would you want to be?? The person with the heart that has gone through the wringer and back or the person with the pristine heart? As the story goes on, you find out that the person with the damage heart was adventurous, took risks, and never let the fear of being hurt or heartbroken stop him from falling in love, over and over again. He loved and he lost, but he lived life to the fullest and never had any regrets. His heart was damaged and had holes and patches from all the love, heartbreak, and lost he had and suffered throughout the years. No matter how many times his heart was broken before, he always chose to be open, vulnerable, and give himself fully and freely to love. The other person had a pristine heart with no marks or damage because he was always guarded, cautious, and protective of his heart. He never took any risks, he protected and shielded his heart from getting hurt and being broken. He kept everyone at arm's length for fear of being hurt, and he didn’t take any risks or chances in life. He always played it safe and never lived life fully, but he had a pristine heart that was undamaged and unscathed. So, which person would you want to be?! I remember reading this story and I thought to myself, “The guy with the damage heart is crazy! Why would he continually let his heart get broken? And the guy with the pristine heart, well that was no way to live either (at least not for me)?!” I remember thinking I would be somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t going to just give my heart away to anybody freely, but I wasn’t going to be too protected or guarded either.
This was the impetus for me to take that ‘leap of faith’ and move to the Bay Area, where you were living at the time. I finally decided that I had to ‘go all in’ and put both feet inside the door and see where this relationship was going to go. So, I packed up my life in So Cal and moved to Oakland. Do you remember, you drove the U-Haul with my Honda Civic towed behind it?! It was May 2005. You were annoyed because my brother and friend, who helped me load the U-Haul, didn't appropriately distribute the weight inside the U-Haul, so it kept swaying when you were driving up I-5?! You were complaining the entire way. Anyways, a year later, we ended up breaking up, so it would appear that the risk didn’t pan out. After we broke up, there wasn’t anything left for me in the Bay Area, I was boyfriendless and jobless (I had just resigned as a math teacher from Skyline High School), so I was going to pack up and move back to So Cal with ‘my tail tucked between my legs.’ But, a month or so into the break-up, I decided that I wasn’t going to let a boy dictate my life. If I decided to move back to So Cal, it would be because I wanted to move back to So Cal and not because of you. I refused to be that girl who lets a boy dictate her decisions and life, so I decided to stay in Oakland. I wanted to see if I could forge a life for myself before calling it quits and moving back to So Cal. (I know, I’m so competitive!! I was determined to not let you win!!) A year or so later, you decided to waltz back into my life and the rest is history.
I just realized you broke my heart twice!! (I think this needs to go on the list of things we need to settle when we see each other again!!) Twice?! Yes, Babe, TWICE!! The second time is when you died and left me!! My heart is broken and I’m in complete shambles...so this counts as twice (even if it wasn’t something you wanted to do, it happened!!)
I guess what I didn’t realize from that story is that life happens (in my defense, I was only 20-something!! What would I know about life except being sappy at that age!) Maybe the guy didn’t just continually let his heart get broken without abandon, maybe life just happened. Maybe circumstances cause the relationship to fail. Maybe they drifted apart over time. Maybe his partner died? Whatever the reason that caused his broken heart, he refused to let it dictate how he chose to live his life. He refused to close himself off because he knows how profound and powerful love can be. He rather risked continually getting hurt and being heartbroken because the risk of living without love was far greater than the risk of getting hurt and losing love. I guess you can only know this if you’ve been in love. I didn’t know what love was when I was in my 20’s, so how could I know? And now that I know, can I ever love again? Can I ever give my heart to someone else? Will there ever be room in my heart for someone else?
I remember after you passed, I kept saying, “I have to start over!” I didn’t know what that really meant but I know I kept saying it. I kept thinking my life was over and I had to start over. I knew I had to rebuild, but what was I rebuilding? I didn’t know, but all I know is that I had to start over. I don’t know if I can start over or what is in store for me, but all I know is that I could never imagine a life without you. Even now, it’s hard to imagine a life without you, and that’s why I’m continually stuck in the “middle room”, the fork in the road; I stand there frozen and paralyzed. I know there’s only one road, but I’m riddled with fear and terror to even take one step forward that signals you don’t exist anymore. I don’t know if or when I will ever be able to take that step, but it’s something I struggle with daily, and it continues to haunt me. Can this story that was an impetus for me to "go all in" with you 13 years ago help propel me forward in the next chapter of my life? A chapter I refused to open or start writing? A chapter I wished I didn't have to live or experience? A chapter I never planned for or could ever imagine would happen to me so early? A chapter that starts with the love of my life died and left me all alone in this world. He abandoned me, and we didn't even get to stay goodbye, even though we were both there, standing in front of each other and staring into each other's eyes when it happened. Even when it was happening right before our eyes, we never once said goodbye or that we loved each other, instead we stood there staring at each other in silence and terror.
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.