We weren’t meant to be together, but we were absolutely meant to be in each other’s lives.
I have been really struggling to find the words. So many thoughts and emotions bubbling below the surface. Memories, good and bad going through my mind day and night. I have wanted to sit down and write about you, about us. I need to share the memories that are honest, do your memory justice and are respectful to my husband. I pray that they come now.
I have been shocked at how deeply your death has affected me. Our relationship ended over thirteen years ago and neither one of us ever looked back. It was over in one sentence at the end of a phone call. “Say the word and I’ll never call you again.” you said. My reply “I’ve gotta let you go.” I never heard your voice again, and that was ok with me. In truth, we both held on to each other far too long. We should have ended long before we actually did. I moved on. I met and married an amazing man. We have a beautiful life together. So why? Why does my heart feel so broken?
Julia answered that haunting question in one simple sentence. "When you give yourself to someone so intimately for so long, even if it isn’t meant to be and you fall out of love, the love you did have never leaves." It lies dormant in your heart, just the way you left it, until something stirs it. Something like a message from your big brother telling me you were in the hospital and would not likely survive the week.
It felt like the air had been sucked from my chest. A blow to the stomach, via a quiescent love I had long forgotten. It couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. It was Chloe’s last week of school and she was performing a magic act in the school talent show. The baby needed to be nursed, I had my head of hair half curled and no make up on, Chloe still hadn’t gotten dressed and it was almost time to leave the house. I was feeling the overwhelming chaos of the morning routine and then my world stopped turning. I felt like I was in a fishbowl, my family bustling around me, yet I was moving in slow motion. Something akin to a scene after an explosion in a war movie, when the sound cuts out and is replaced with ringing and confusion. I immediately started praying, and trying to get ahold of my priest so I could have a scapular blessed and overnighted to you. I pulled myself together and went on with my morning. But my mind was hundreds of miles miles away, in a hospital room in Texas. I guess I wasn’t faking it as well as I thought, because my husband noticed something was off with me almost immediately.
I told him what was going on and his response was “Im sorry babe.” and he grabbed my hand and squeezed it. As he drove us to the school I looked out the window at the morning sun dancing across the field. I took in all my surroundings. My mind raced back and forth from shocked grief to deep gratitude. Grief for you and your family. Grief for a life ending much too soon. I kept playing in my mind what you felt when they gave you the news that things had rapidly worsened and hope was fleeting. My heart felt like it weighed ten thousand pounds. I would remind myself to breathe and then the pendulum would swing back. Back to the here and now in my life. The profound gratitude I have for my husband and family throbbed in my chest. I was headed to my little girl's magic show, as you laid in a hospital bed. There was a very real sense that, had I chosen a different path I would be in the hospital staring becoming a widow directly in the eye.
I can’t quite articulate the sense of urgency that filled my soul. I HAD to do something. But my God it’s been over thirteen years. What role do I play in all of this. I had so many questions, so much I wanted to do and say. But I didn’t want to bombard your family with requests and questions as they desperately held on to you in this ocean of grief. Aaron first messaged me on Tuesday morning 6:54am. We talked back and forth a few times but it was radio silence after the following morning. I already had a brown scapular en-route to you, but had no idea of whether things had worsened or gotten better. I told the good Lord that I would happily be his feet and his hands, but he had to make a path for me to follow. Crystal called me shortly after that prayer. From her I got Amber’s phone number and we stayed in almost constant contact over the last few days of your life.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have been invited to be part of such a intimate and heart wrenching family time. Even after so many years your mom, brothers and sister welcomed me and all my crazy Catholicism with open arms. I have to say, I love that your last memory of me will be waking up to a Catholic priest standing over you. I giggle every time I picture your bewildered and irritated expression as your siblings whispered “Marie sent him.” I find tremendous comfort in the fact that you accepted that last blessing.
Surrounded by family, love and wearing my Blessed brown scapular, you breathed your last at 1:39am Monday May 22nd 2017. So where do we go from here? What do we do with these emotions? These memories? I myself have felt almost guilty over my grief, like I am somehow betraying my husband by letting myself feel the torrent of emotions that have been bombarding me for the last week. This of course is untrue. You were a huge part of my life. We loved hard and we fought even harder. The life I had with you played a very large part in who I became. I am the woman my husband fell in love with, partly because of how my relationship with you affected me.
Over the years I have often wondered what role we played in each others lives. What was the point to all of it? I mean… it was quite the tumultuous relationship, was it not? I joked with Amber that when I wrote you that letter I videoed, I had to delete it three times because it kept sounding like the intro to War and Peace. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” really sums up our six years together accurately. Regardless, some of my very favorite memories are of time spent with you. So I am choosing to focus on those times and soak up the residual happiness from re-living them in my head.
I sat up last night texting your sister and Crystal. We were sharing stories and old photos. I think that is when all my emotions really surfaced. I laughed and I cried a lot. I listened to Troubador by George straight and got weepy but the next song that played was “The Man in Love With You”. Holy moly, all the feels. When she called me, I had said to Crystal that I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want to impose and that I wasn’t family. Her response was “You were the love of his life, you absolutely ARE family.” That makes me happy and so terribly sad all at the same time. You were the one before The One for me and I should have been the same thing for you. We were so young when our story started. I used to hate the way it ended. I have often said, even to my own husband, that I wish you and I had never dated, because if we hadn’t I’m sure we would still have been good friends even after all these years. Your sister sent me a photo, of me asleep on your chest at the farm. The expression on your face in that photo is how I will choose to remember you.
For a very long time when I thought of you or our time together it seemed like such a jumbled mess. Like the bottom of a tapestry, all knots and random threads leading nowhere. But I have been blessed to get a quick peek at the top of that tapestry this week. A glimpse at the beautiful image God has stitched together. I now see the role we were able to play in each other’s lives. I see how God hand picked me to be able to be there for you and your family in your last days and I am thankful. I truly believe that whether your time here is long or short, the most important thing you will ever do in this life is die. How you die seals your eternity, and you my friend, died well. Please don’t forget to pray for all of us down here.
Until I see you again…