I’m writing for the next few weeks in place of our wonderful Kelley, since she has a lot on her plate right now and needs a little space. It’s a great thing that widowed people are able to do for one another, at times, to help lighten the load. I think that has been one of the biggest blessings of this community for me… sharing the load. And on that topic, I am thinking about sharing the load of grief today a lot… and how being writing here and sharing this day is helpful.
Eight years ago today my world changed forever, suddenly, and in ways I couldn’t have imagined. This is the anniversary of when my first fiance, Drew, died… Also known as “D” Day in my world (both for Drew and Death). He died in a helicopter crash, while working as a pilot up in Washington state. My world turned upside down with one phonecall… by the time I got that call, he was already gone.
This day itself is usually not nearly as hard anymore… in fact, it’s usually a day I set aside in some way to embrace life and love, so it’s become a day full of both pain and beauty. The harder days often times for me come in May. May was the last time that I actually saw Drew. It was the last time I hugged him, the last time I looked in his eyes. Specifically, an early morning in May at the coffee shop in Dallas was where we said goodbye. We didn’t know we were saying goodbye forever… we thought it would be for 3 months while he was away for work. Then another week or so later comes the anniversary of when we had our first date. Another whammy. Needless to say, it’s several weeks of emotional buildup for me this time of year.
So today, today is not as hard. It’s very sad, but not as hard as the weeks prior. The final weeks that my bones remember him still being alive, even if far away. The weeks that still felt like endless possibilities lay before us in our young life together. When I still had young eyes. When he sent me a dozen white roses since he couldn’t be here to celebrate our anniversary. Roses that I came home to, wilted and dry and dying, after a funeral. Looked at by eyes that had lost their innocence forever.
They are the weeks that almost no else in my life realizes I struggle with, because they think “the day” is the hardest day. For me, it never it the hardest day. It’s honestly more like the day when I feel like all the build up of the previous weeks is done. Oddly, this day is the day of release, the day I can let out an enormous sigh. The day I can say “phew, I’ve made it through that again”.
This year, on June 12th, I am actually riding through rainstorms in North Carolina on the way back to Ohio. Mike, Shelby and I snuck away to a remote beach area for the week and told very few people. With everything going on in the world right now, and in our personal lives, I didn’t feel like getting any opinions about taking a vacation. We brought masks and sanitizer and have been very responsible. We have all been exhausted and at our wits end the past month for many reasons, and I know we needed this. So this day will be spent on the road driving home after taking care of myself.
At the last minute this morning, Mike decided we are going to add a few hours to the trip to stop at Kitty Hawk and see the Wright Brothers National Memorial. This is yet another example of widowed people sharing the load. He is widowed as well, and knows all too well what today is. He’s decided to take me to see this memorial to the very beginnings of flight on the day I lost my pilot right years ago.
Flying was everything to Drew, and I know it would have been so meaningful to him to be able to see this. So at least, on this day, we can honor him by going there for him. And for us. It doesn’t take the pain away, nothing ever will. But it does add beauty, and meaning, and love, and new memories to this day. New memories that he is still a part of. I sure miss that goofy pilot. My heart does ache today, but I am glad for the places he is still taking me, and the person he led me to.