April 7th marks 3 years since Boris died. 3 years since I have seen his face, heard his voice, or touched him. I honestly do not know how I survived the last 3 years. In the first few weeks and months, the loss consumed every part of me. I still think about him every single day, but somehow I am still moving forward. I have traveled, started a Ph.D. program, gotten tattoos, made new friends, bought a new car, and even tried online dating. Sometimes thinking about the loss still feels overwhelming and sometimes I still find myself unable to read for school or complete tasks because my brain is stuck in a grief fog or simply trying to process what has happened to me. I guess my Year 3 conclusion is that I now know that I can not only survive this loss, but I can move forward and experience new things, accomplish goals, and feel happy. Will I ever be the same person I was on April 6, 2018? No. Of course not. Do I still have moments of crippling grief where I can literally feel my heart breaking all over again? Yes. I do. Do I still miss him every moment of every day? Yes, I really do. But, here I am. All of that loss and all of that pain still exists and yet here I am.
I remember reading in Nora McInerny’s first book about when she laughed so hard for the first time after her husband died. It was the night she met her current husband. I remember that moment for me. I was ordering in a McDonald’s drive-through with my sister and close friend after a concert in Nashville, maybe 6 months or so after Boris died. Something made me laugh and then I realized I could not stop. I could barely speak. I am sure the person taking my order assumed I was high or drunk or something. But, I was in tears laughing at literally nothing. It was like my body had to release that laughter that had been stuck inside of me waiting to burst. I think about that sometimes when I feel especially blue. I know that there is a full range of emotions inside of me, not just sadness. I know I can feel happiness and maybe even joy. Sometimes that is hard to remember. I know things will never be the same. I can never go back to before this loss. I will always have this little rain cloud. I hate that rain cloud. But I can still see the sun through it. I can still experience warmth through it. And when the rain cloud feels especially overwhelming and it begins to rain a lot, I now just let it rain. I know that eventually, I will feel the sun again, even though the rain cloud will still be hanging around.
I miss Boris with every part of me. That won’t ever change. But, I think about Mary Oliver’s question, “what will I do with my one wild and precious life?” And I must live it. And I must carry Boris with me through it because he only had one wild and precious life, too, and with his, he loved me the best he could. He loved and cared for animals. He learned new things every day. He left generous tips for wait staff even when he was barely paying his bills. He listened to people with intention. He made people laugh and challenged people to see things differently. His life was far too short, but he made such an impact in those 27 years. So, I must go forward and live mine for as long as I am given. I now know that I can.
This photo is from the spot where I spread some of Boris’s ashes in Hong Kong in October 2018. The quote is from “Shelter” by Madeon and Porter Robinson, a Boris favorite.