One month ago today I made the hardest decision of my life. With the loving support of my family and friends, I somehow found the strength to speak words stating it was time to let Russell go and begin to accept that his journey on this earth was at an end. Never could I have imagined before that time, that moment that I would have been able to speak all I had to speak that day. And yet somehow I did.
There are many things I’ve had to do and say since that day a month I could have never imagined. I continue to walk my path forward with a body and spirit that doesn’t quite know the way. I am becoming stronger and more open than I could have imagine just a few short weeks ago. And I am also more lost and unsure some days than I thought were possible. Standing in the middle of light and darkness, understanding and confusion, dreams and reality, sadness and joy continues to be the truth of my every day. It all just remains so very unreal feeling most of the time.
The entire experience of Russell’s quick illness, his death and the weeks since are by far the most profound of my life. While I move into finding what a new “normal” is for myself and our kids, I am still most struck by the awesomeness of the outpouring of love and support for our family. When Russell so quickly and shockingly got sick and died, we all tapped into something very raw, vulnerable, loving and real. The shock of such a quick loss pushed many of us into dropping the multiple ways we hide our real selves from the world. We took chances to open up. We dropped our tasks and spent all our time sharing stories with and being with one another. Being together became the highest priority over getting our lists done. We all allowed ourselves to be our most authentic, open selves.
As “real life” has once again taken over and we all get back to daily tasks of living our lives, it’s become easier to step away from living from a place of radical openness to one another. It’s not that we don’t want to remain deeply connected to one another on a daily basis. It’s simply easier to focus on our tasks instead of focusing on our emotional connections. Focusing on tasks is much less messy most of the time. It’s concrete, it’s tangible, we can clearly see what we have “done” each day. Focusing on emotional connections to each other and ourselves is more messy and definitely not as clear what one may have accomplished in a day. But I still find myself trying to stay focused on the messiness of living in the moment and choosing people over tasks at this time, in this moment.
The daily tasks of working, keeping the house cleaned, planning for the future are necessary ones for me right now. But I move through them with little enjoyment or or sense of realness. It is getting a little easier each day to make a list and actually accomplish many of my tasks. But the power I used to give to my to-do list is gone. I no longer give my list so much power that I am not living my life with passion and realness. I find that I am giving much greater power to dreaming and imagining a life for myself and my kids that is one of opportunities for becoming the most authentic selves we can be.
Finishing tasks, tracking my thoughts, getting to work – all of these just can’t happen every day. But imagining – that I can do even in my darkest of moments. Even in the moments that I feel as if I can’t breathe deeply nor figure out how to walk this world without Russell, there is a little part of myself that can imagine a day in which I am not struck 100s of times at the unrealness of my life right now. I can imagine a day, far into the future, that I walk with a light heart and a light step on a path that isn’t covered with rocks and holes and slick spots threatening to drop me to my knees. I can imagine a day, in some other time and some other moment, that isn’t so deeply confusing as many of the days are right now. I can imagine a day that the kids and I wake up with energy and ready to leave our house with joy, looking forward to all the day can bring. I can imagine a time in which working for more than 5 hours doesn’t wear me out the point that I need to rest for double that time. I imagine myself continuing to live vulnerably, open to saying yes to people and opportunities, dreaming as much as I plan, letting go of fears to trust that all will be well no matter what is happening in my life, saying yes to LOVE.
I hold onto these imaginings. I hold onto the imaginings the kids and are doing of places we want to visit this year and people we want to see. I hold onto all I can imagine that is hopeful and joyful and full of light. These dreams get me through the dark times that rise up inside of me, blindsiding me in odd moments everyday. I hold onto the fact that as hard as it still feels, today is easier than the day Russell died a month ago. At that time, I couldn’t have imagined that it would ever be easier to function, to do things, to simply breathe. But it is. So I know that a month from now, it will be even a little more easy.
One day at a time, one hour at a time, one moment at a time we are moving forward. We – my kids and I – embrace as fully as we can the moments that are filled with joy and celebrating. And we honor the moments that are filled with sadness and grieving. All of these moments are part of our authentic journey. We will continue to be as honest in walking our individual journeys as we possibly can, for as long as we need to. While others have walked their own journeys of grieving and loss, our journeys are our own. And only we can walk our own journeys, being honest and true to what we each need individually. In our own time, in our own way we will walk forward into a future we can only imagine right now.