Like a freight train, time is bullying its way forward. Come February, which feels just around the corner, I will have been five years without Mike. I sit here in his chair on the lanai we shared in this house, looking down on the ocean view he loved so dearly, wondering how that is possible.
Because in this moment, and so many others, it feels like yesterday. The pain feels raw and real and the missing him hasn’t stopped. And yet I have been forced to continue to deal with life in this world all this time, without him.
Nothing has happened, and yet, so much has happened. One the one hand I have felt glued in place by my grief; the memories of him, of us, feel close, and vivid. But when I really think about it, a lot has changed too.
I never planned on meeting someone else, but that happened. My boyfriend started out as my tenant, so he has ended up sharing a lot of time here in this house with me, becoming part of my life, and part of my dogs’ lives. I am the kind of person who tends to believe there is meaning in this. That perhaps somehow Mike had a hand in that. Because now, my dogs adore my boyfriend and he adores them. My bigger, older dog in particular, I think because she had really been Mike’s dog, and missed the companionship of a man. I know Mike would have wanted that for her, and for me.
It’s never the same though. We can find new love, new ways of living and surviving, but that doesn’t mean we forget. It doesn’t mean we stop missing our lost love or the life we shared.
I’m going to try and stay here in Hawaii a little longer. It feels too hard to leave it all, to leave my boyfriend and my dogs. To leave him with the responsibility of them, and to leave the joy of having my little dog, my shadow, by my side, day and night. And I could not in good conscience separate them.
As I write this, we are trying to negotiate for a house to rent that will agree to the dogs. We got approved, but the fine print may get in the way, so I don’t have any definite news on that yet. I’ve cried, each step of the way in this process, mourning the loss of these walls that hold so many memories. My boyfriend believes this move will be good, it will be a way for me to break into a new chapter, a new beginning. He might be right. I hope he’s right. I don’t have any choice.
For the long term I still see myself leaving this island and moving closer to family on the mainland. But for now, I will attempt to bloom where I’m planted, remembering another of Mike’s plagiarized and repeated wisdoms. I will continue in my job, and work hard to establish my new business. And I will stay with my dogs, hoping to be here for the end of my older dog’s life. This beautiful, sweet creature who has suffered so much loss as well.
It feels like no decision will ever be completely 100% right. And who knows; nothing is signed yet. I also second-guess myself each moment, each step of the way, and yet I know I need to make the best of what I have, to love the beings I have with me, and continue to love the ones I don’t. To find fullness in a world that often seems empty.
To smile, when I just feel like crying.