“I love you.” These were the final words that Russell and I said to each other exactly 11 months ago. For this I will be eternally grateful! To have our final verbalizations to one another be ones of heart felt love is a gift that continues to give me great peace, comfort, and joy.
As we edge closer to the 1 year anniversary of Russell’s hospitalization and death, I am experiencing such a myriad of emotions. A renewed shock that this is actually real. Deep longing for him to be here in the flesh again. Sadness for missed opportunities. Bewilderment and curiousity about the flashbacks I am having daily of what it was like at this time last year. Gratitude for the many gifts of this time – supportive friends and family, embracing communities, work that can feed my soul, children who are my life’s breath, financial freedom to have time to heal and be, projects and ideas that give me hope of a new future. And threading through all of it, a continued profound love for all the people and opportunities in my life at this time, in this moment.
The past couple of weeks I have been spending a great deal of time pondering, processing and letting go of memories of what it was like for Russell and I at this time last year. For, you see, it was one of the darkest times of our life together. January – March of 2015 he and I were in a time of great discernment about who we were as individuals and more importantly, what that meant for us as a couple. We were in weekly counseling for those 3 months as we tried to figure out how to re-embrace the joyousness of others and let go of the build up of frustrations that can happen for so very many couples in long term relationships.
Those 2 1/2 months before he entered the hospital were ones of frustration, brutal honesty about what we were really feeling and experiencing, and fear about where we might be headed. Those counseling sessions were hard ones as we pulled back the curtains of politeness to get to the real behind them. We had moments of such rawness in expressing our true feelings that my breath can still catch remembering those times.
Those months were also ones of hope, remembering, weaving new threads of love, listening, and learning to trust in new ways. They were weeks of taking risks to step into vulnerability with one another. We took lots of baby steps forward to healing US, while also realizing the ways we needed to heal our own wounded selves. We sought new ways to communicate with one another. We focused more energy on appreciating one another for both little and big things. We found new ways of connecting and simply enjoying each other’s company.
Now, as I look back on that time, I am grateful to the depths of my being that we were working diligently to heal US. That our final months together were spent with our first and foremost priority each week being our scheduled counseling appointments has given me great relief these past 11 months. Oh, I know we had a long, healing road ahead of us still. But we were doing it! We were saying it! We were choosing to work at healing our relationship! We weren’t just giving up and saying “It’s too hard. We can’t do this.”
I can with complete confidence believe that Russell knew at the end that I loved him and I was there for him. I can rest assured in the fact that we were in a place of hope, love, and possibility with one another the day he entered the hospital. Heck, just the day before we had been at a counseling session that ended with us realizing we were both feeling hopeful about us and our future. What a gift!
So in this time, in this moment I encourage all of you SAY IT NOW! Love is all that matters and we need to say it those we love NOW! If you have relationships that you know need healing, do it now! If you care about someone, say it now! I am witness that it can end as quickly as a blink of an eye. To know that you have done and said all that you could to heal, love, and hope is a gift we all should have.
In this time, in this moment remember – LOVE IS ALL THAT MATTERS!