When you first left so suddenly, the pain was so strong, crippling, paralyzing. Then the numbness came. I had to work. I had to become an automaton. Get up, help the kids, go to work, help other people's kids, get along with coworkers, drive home, be a mom. Lather, rinse, repeat. I did find out I was difficult to be around so I had to numb myself some more.
|Dusty Shoes - Post Canyon Hike|
|Getting Goofy at Disneyland|
The following summer, I took the kids on our dream road trip seeing everything you and I said we would see with all of our kids (eight in total). Grand Canyon, Disneyland, Washington, Colorado. We saw it all, minus a few kids. It was fun and sad all at the same time. Visiting your relatives was especially poignant. Sitting out in your uncle's backyard, I could imagine you sitting out there chewing the fat, sipping a beer, watching the sun set, wishing you could see your family more often. That year I found CrossFit and Fit Camp. Exercise became my outlet. It meant working out at 7:30 at night in order to get classes for free. I also had to rely on Caitlin to pick up James from football practice so I could make time for myself. I slowly felt my sanity coming back, and I had the added benefit of being healthier. I still dreaded driving home from work and the gym in silence. No more bluetooth conversations discussing our workdays and our fitness achievements.
|Yeah, I was lost.|
The next summer, I still needed to get away. I found myself in Arizona, hiking the trails of Sedona. As I got lost more than once, the solitude provided me with the quiet I needed to reflect on what direction I wanted the rest of my life to go. I could no longer maintain the status quo. Something had to change. That's when I made the decision to improve myself professionally. I researched what would take to become a school administrator, borrowed the money from my mom and enrolled in a principal certification program. Your encouragement was noticeably absent.
This summer is underway with no major trips for me in the foreseeable future. Instead, I am wrapping up the nine month process of earning my principal certificate. I have passed the test. I have completed my major coursework. I have four more days of required professional development, and then I am officially done. DONE. DONE! I know you are proud.
Today I have new struggles. As life goes on, I meet people who never knew you as the other half of me. They don't understand why today is a sad day. We never got to be married. We didn't get to share a name (even though I told you I would never change my name again. LOL.) Our unique relationship is hard to describe. People also love to ask if I am ready to date. Why do they do that? There is no simple answer. I know there is no replacement for you. I know that you want me to be happy. I don't like sitting home watching Netflix without you, but I don't have what it takes to forge new friendships at this time. There is only so much energy, and mine is dedicated to advancing my career and ensuring James's and Caitlin's wellbeing.
Despite these obstacles, I'm doing okay. I've accepted that it will never be the way it was. I don't expect it to be. Instead I live a new kind of normal - one that finds me achieving new things and wishing I could call tell you all about it.
|Your memory wall|
On the anniversary of your passing, I won't dwell on the negative. I will use this day to honor you and your memory by reflecting on the progress I've made and anticipating the progress yet to come.