Loneliness - 17 Year wedding Anniversary.
Trembling slightly under the sheer enormity of knowing I was about to be with this man forever, I walk down the registry office aisle. You turn back at me, handsome 24-year-old face beaming, blue eyes guiding my heart, your pale blue suit sits framing perfectly your wide surfer's shoulders. 9 months after our first date, I am expecting our first of 4 babies; Monty is nearly 6 months old today, our wedding day, but we had been planning to get married since the second day we were met. Today, the 16th of April 2004, it was real, it was happening, my fairy tale was beginning. My breath tingles through my body as I look back at you and walk towards you, my eternity, my destiny, my soul-mate, my safe place and my widest adventure.
I wake on the eve of our 17 year wedding anniversary, alone. I don't reach out for you anymore, or call out for you very often in the night, although sometimes I do in my nightmares as I search for you or can't prevent you from disappearing as you fall away from me. Almost 10 years on from your accident, my automatic memory is 'he's not there'. My mind now knows not to look, it's changed. Although there's relief in this, there's sadness that I instinctively know you are not there anymore. Bright sun explores my room through the blind, it infiltrates any gap it finds, I lie for a while looking at the patterns created by light piercing the otherwise dark room. One of the kids stirs, as teenagers, I am now always the first up and the first to bed in my house! How times have changed. I climb out of my warm duvet, the cat grumbles as he loses the comfort of my body to sleep next to, a new day, time to swim!
Waves tumble lazily over the rocks, it's a bright day, it's chilly but the water in the sea is warming up, it's around 10 degrees at the moment. My youngest, Esmie, comes down to paddle - I love her adventurous soul, her eyes bold, bright and wild; she has your eyes, Alex. I am rarely alone, and the kids are at the incredible teenage stage that is endless fun and challenge and crazy and a whole heap of personality and hormones and growth and best friendships.
I have often been asked if I get lonely - and in truth, it's a hard one to answer. But the overriding answer to this is is no, I don't. At times I feel the pressure of lone-parenting, these pressures mount occasionally and certainly have done recently (hence my lack of blogging), but in life, a great deal of it (when you are supporting correctly your mental health) is perspective and choice: I choose everyday to feel loved, to feel needed, to feel appreciated, to know I am surrounded, to feel I belong. There is, and always will be an ache for Alex that none of these things in my life I fill myself up with will taper or eradicate, but I balance this ache in my soul with reminders of my beautiful people, my children, my family, my friends, my soul family.
Contemplating loneliness the other day, I thought of this: as humans, we seem to have a vast, unfathomable capacity to hold many spaces at once, without one being mutually exclusive of the other. You do not have to abandon happiness to feel into your grief, You do not have to hold the sole space of wishing your person was still there as they once were, it can coexist with feeling surrounded by the love of others. We can feel many things at once, nothing is actually linear in 'feeling'. I recognise the spectrum of feelings I go through moment-to-moment, and I have become very good at reassuring myself that it is all OK, it is OK to feel it all. I know I am happy, yet also in deep grief, it all whirls around together, making one emotion more beautiful for being impacted by the other. The light finds its way in to blend and mold shapes in the darker times.
I read a quote by Empowered Through Grief on instagram today which resonated deeply:
"Moving forward is not the same as letting go, you can carry your person with you and allow their impact to shape the person you're becoming"
This is one of the reasons I get in the sea everyday. Alex LOVED his ocean, was in love with his ocean and his sea-time, I never got it, not really, despite how much he demonstrated over and over how healing it was, how his mood would dissipate in the cold salty waters and a smile invariably unfold on his tired face. I am becoming more attached to him and who he was when I get in the sea. Not an experience in the sea do I have without a smile, a laugh, a wash of relief and a sense of leaving so much unwanted 'stuff' in the waters - the sea carries it all. I thank it every time I climb out, I turn, face the sea, bow with my hands together in front of my heart 'thank you', I breathe. I thank Alex every time I enter for instilling in me the best coping mechanism I have ever found. He brought me to this, he knew - he is in me, around me, guides me and I am braving things I never would, still because of him.
17 years of marriage, I could never have known the gravity or impact of 'in sickness and in health'. I am there for him, though he cannot be there for me, not in any physical sense - but I revel in who he has made me, who I am becoming because of the love we shared and because of the person he was. I carry him, all day, every day and I will always have him. I miss him, I miss 'marriage' I miss having a husband, I hurt, I yield to this, hold this at the same time I hold joy, purpose and love. The symbiotic relationship of the feelings we can hold all at once is enthralling and beautiful and I marvel at this element of human-ness.
Peace and ocean,