On May 25, 2016, he asked me to marry him. Then, he died before our wedding day.
In 2018 when I originally wrote this, I sat re-reading those two sentences again and again and again. I just couldn’t seem to process the words the letters were forming. Now, nearly five years from the date, my mind can make sense of what I am reading, but my heart breaks a little when I take in the words on the page.
Never in a million years did I think this would be the story of my life. It is fair to say Mike and I were just getting to the good part in our love story. We were leading up to the chapter where we were going to live happily ever after.
There was no way for us to predict that our story was going to come to a tragic end. Looking back, there wasn’t any foreshadowing. Everything was coming up roses for us. Our life together was magical. And, even as I was living it, I remember stopping myself – in the middle of an ordinary moment – because I could not believe how beautifully everything was falling into place. Maybe it really was too good to be true. *Sigh.
Life was good for me and Mike.
Our life together was better than anything either of us dreamed of. And, really, that’s an understatement.
Then, one night Mike went to sleep and the next morning he never woke up. And, just like that, everything changed. Our story was over. There were no goodbyes. And, there will not be happily ever after for us. At least not here…
It’s been five long years since he proposed to me on a warm night in Mexico. I can feel everything about that moment when Mike asked me to be his wife. It feels like just last night; and, at the very same time, it also feels like a lifetime ago too. I have lived a lot of life on my own since that joy filled night in Mexico; and, the truth is, Mexico and all things Mike have taken on the feel of background music in my life. And, this is the way it is supposed to be for me. I don’t feel him or our life the way I used to and I am okay with this. The melody of Mike and I has become quieter. Now, I can hear the present more clearly because the past does not drown it out. These last few years, I have started to focus on me. My attention is on my own life and the future that I am working hard to create – Mike would like this.
Recently, I sold my house and this July 31st, 2021 I move into my new home. The woman who signed the papers to purchase this new house is a different woman than the one who sat with Mike on that balcony in Mexico. She is better in some ways and not as good in other ways. But, generally, I like the woman I am becoming; and Mike would like her too.
Death does a lot of things to the living. One thing it does is makes the clock go haywire. When Mike’s heart stopped, for a long, long time, Time itself stopped making sense for me. I realize that a significant amount of time has passed since his proposal; but, still, after all this time, I am not sure what to do with all our hopes and dreams that never came to be. Early on I was paralyzed by this profound sense of loss. I stood still for a long, long time as I quietly grieved for the life we never got to live out. The difference is, now 4.6 years have passed since he died and most days I can accept that everything we hoped to share together is over. I have been forced to accept the truth of his death. These last 4.6 years Mike has missed so much. I feel sad about this and I also acknowledge and accept that he will continue to be physically absent for the remainder of my life. The reality of this hurts a lot, but it is what it is. So, I live forward the best I can because nothing else can be done.
I want to feel hopefulness inside me again. I yearn to feel that same thrill about the future that I felt when he was alive. But, now, I have to reproduce these feelings of hope and joyful anticipation on my own. And, that is one hell of a tough thing to do. But, somehow, I am doing it, day by day.
Although my mind understands that he is gone from this dimension, on days like May 25th, my heart yearns for him to come back so that we can live happily ever after like he promised me we would. Sometimes, I *still* struggle to live in the moment because I am daydreaming about a fictional life he promised me when he asked me to be his wife. Sometimes, in the middle of an ordinary day, I am lost in thoughts about an imaginary life that we never got to live.
Part of me continues to wish we were living together under one roof as husband and wife. And, it‘s fair to say that for many years I spent a lot of time wishing for things that are no longer possible. And, all this wishful thinking detracted me from living the life before me. Now, I have a better handle on this. My grief has evolved into a grief of my own. Rather than focussing on the loss of Mike, in the last few years, I have been fixated on the loss of me and I think this has been good. I have endeavoured to recreate myself from the wreckage of death.
Five years later, it is time to focus on the life I have, not the life that was supposed to be. But, this is much easier said than done. I don’t know much for certain, but I can say, I’m not as lost without him anymore. I don’t know why or how, but I am able to live without Mike with more ease now. I have finally accepted that Mike died and he is never returning. And, when I accepted his death, I began to live a life of my own and this feels “okay” most days. And, recently, for the briefest time, I felt almost normal, which in and of itself, felt abnormal. It was surprising to me how uncomfortable “normal” feels after so much time spent feeling uncomfortable in my own life.
It’s taken me, nearly five years but I’m finding my way back to life again. I know that authentic living can not happen when I continually shift between worlds. So, to counteract this, I work to be present here in a more fulsome way. In the early years, I existed here, and also some place in a parallel Universe. I spent most of my time lost in my head. And, it was so exhausting to live like this. Slowly, with lots and lots of hard work, I’m recovering from this type of existence. Now, I’m more grounded in my life and I am grateful for this.
Life is for the living.
I did not; and I will be damned if his wife slowly dies here mourning him.
The best way I can honor Mike is to life a big, beautiful life. So, that is what I plan to do.
Five years ago, on May 25th, 2016, on a balcony in Mexico, Mike asked me to marry him. He picked me to be his wife. And, I accepted. Then, Mike died before we said our wedding vows. But, in heart, we were married. Mike did in fact spend the rest of his life with me. And, I have some comfort in this.
In the past, I couldn’t be satisfied with all the broken promises he left me with. I could not be content to live a future different than the one I imagined. It just wasn’t enough. And, now, maybe it is. Maybe it is” okay” that life did not turn out like I expected it to. Maybe, this whole circumstance is bigger than me and Mike.
Slowly, I am coming to peace with this mess that is his death. Now, it is nearly enough for me that Mike died happy and madly in love. I’m so very grateful that I shared my life and love with him. Mike spent the rest of his life with me and this does count for something big.
Written: MAY 28, 2018