Nearing New Year’s, of course we’re all looking back. Or maybe some of us aren’t because we don’t want to – or we just can’t. I imagine a lot of us are ready to leave 2017 in the dust. I certainly am. Not perhaps in the same way I was ready to leave 2012 in the dust… that was more about running away from my reality and my pain. This is more a feeling of being ready for what’s next. A feeling of accomplishment for making it through a year filled with all kinds of new challenges I’d never faced before.
This year I also hit a major grief milestone – the 5 year mark. I remember having so much fear about one day being FIVE ENTIRE YEARS away from the last day I saw him or heard his voice. For a long time, that number scared me a lot. Then it just became hard to imagine. It’s still hard to imagine even though it’s now here. Now approaching 5 ½ years as I write this and somehow it hasn’t been so traumatic after all. There have been painful moments yes, but not as I had imagined it would be. It was a softer and more gentle pain, if that makes sense. Still there is a longing for a time that once was. For a life I loved. A person I still love. For the person I used to be that I will never be again. But it doesn’t feel like I’d thought it would.
I used to have so much fear about forgetting Drew. About losing my connection to him, to our life together. I would cling to every little sign and comfort, memory and trinket I could because I felt like I had to try hard to make sure he stayed a part of my life. After five years, I’ve begun to let go of trying… and in doing so have realized that he is still here. Even when I have not actively made any efforts at all to stay connected to him – he is still here. In some ways more than ever.
There is something beautiful about beginning to feel how this new life and the old fit together. It used to seem like my heart was so small a thing… how could there possibly be room for loving another? How could there possibly still be room for loving Drew too? But my view has changed over time… my visual of that inner world where my love lives feels so much larger. No longer do I imagine trying to fit all my love into this tiny organ inside my chest. Now I imagine my inner world as an entire universe… filled with limitless space for loving.
Drew became such an important part of who I was in my late twenties, and his death shaped so much of who I’ve become in my thirties. I am now realizing in an even deeper way that I don’t ever have to be afraid of losing him ever again. He is always going to be a part of me and I don’t have to do a thing to make sure of that. Like a galaxy in my universe which was first explosive and chaotic, and over time has settled into its own rotation. A galaxy that has finally begun to settle in and establish itself. He has found his place within my universe, with his own unique gravitational pull that balances with all the other galaxies within me… and he will be there steadfastly for all my days.
This is what I’ve come to feel and believe as I close out five years and lean into six. The space for love is so much bigger than I ever realized before.