There are some things it’s almost impossible to write about. These are things I can only live. Things that no number of photos or blog posts can do justice.
Virginia Woolf writes, “One can’t write directly about the soul. Looked at, it vanishes.”
What is true of the soul is true of other things. One of which is this: This weekend would have been my 6th wedding anniversary with Chris. Instead, it is a marker of having spent as much time as a widow as I did as a wife. The first three years flew by; these second three years have seemed an eternity.
One of my son’s favorite books is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. It reads: “Oh-oh! A forest! A big, dark forest. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it!” And the same is true for the riptide current of sorrow. I couldn’t avoid it, go over or under it. I’ve spent the last three years slogging through it. “Stumble, trip. Stumble, trip. Stumble, trip.” Through, through, through.
And somewhere along the thousand steps through sorrow, I met someone. I lingered in the depths of winter depression, burdened by grief and hopelessness and despair. I lived in yoga pants and oversized sweatshirts, no makeup and messy ponytails.
To this day, I can’t fathom why the man I met then waited for me to gracelessly stumble my way through to the other side. To the side where I found happiness and God and peace. To the side where I was shocked to realize that loving someone new did not mean no longer missing Chris. It’s the final understanding – and acceptance – that forgetting is impossible, but not continuing to live and love is equally unfathomable.
And so, two months from now, I will be walking down the aisle for the second time. Two weddings. Two dresses. Two vows of “till death do us part.”
An occasion so strikingly familiar, and yet so vastly different. I wasn’t looking for Mike. He is everything I never expected. When death crashes over you, you don’t ever think you could love again. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Chris – his life and his death – shaped me into who I am today, and that person is more capable of loving than I ever dared to imagine. Mike is in my life because I came face to face with raw fear and vulnerability and decided to open up my life and my little family to someone new. Because I realized that to love and be loved is always worth the fear of loss and grief.
It is simultaneously terrifying and amazing. I am scared and I am brought to my knees with gratitude. I overflow.
And so Mike and I make new adventures. We laugh and encourage and pray and dream. Our family looks very different from what either of us could have ever imagined, but its beauty is breathtaking.