In the past couple months I realized that I have accepted Steve's death and I'm okay. I'm even good most days. I completely accept that everyone is at their own time frame and there are no rules to this grief journey, but I also know that I cannot stay in a place of grief. I must move forward for not only my boys, that have kept me going, but for myself. I have the right to be happy. I have the right to be sad, to miss Steve and to grieve the loss of the marriage we had. I have the right to do activities by myself or go out to dinner with a friend.
My newest right I'm realizing is the right to potentially find someone else to love. I have done a lot of praying and a lot of journaling to decide to move forward. Who I am now is because of who I have been in my past and the events that have happened. I believe that God has put me here to love others, to be accepting, and to experience absolute joy. He has given me the strength to suffer through and survive loss, grief and heartbreak.
When my friend died in 2010, Steve and I talked about people moving forward and getting remarried and what the time frame should be. We agreed that we had no idea how long it would be or if we would ever try to be with someone else if it was us in that situation. There is no time frame other than what is right for each person.
At that time I wrote a note to my friend's husband telling him, "I thought about how I feel and if it’s okay that it is happening already. Like I said before, I don’t have a definition for “rush into it”. I have no idea what it means or how long is “long enough”. Here is my conclusion: I never dated anyone other than Steve and he never dated anyone other than me. I have no past loves to remember and never had to move on and start over. I assume that you loved someone before and that it was weird to be with her and to not be with the other person at first and then the past became the past and you lived in the present and planned for the future. I never had to do that and so I have no idea how to do it….and I can’t imagine trying. I think you moving on means you are coping and living in the present. I am not getting to the present as fast as others and I think that is okay too. I will catch up eventually and if not we will all be at different places. In the song I wrote for Brian when he was born is the line, “In our hearts, a new space grew”. I think that is what is happening now. No one can replace her. Her space is taken. But a new space grew and gets filled with someone else and new memories are formed. I believe that you can love more than one person. I have three boys and although I love them all and I love them the same amount, the love is different with each one. I love my family and I love Steve. I love my friends. All of these loves are different." I again think her death prepared me for where I am now.
Since Steve died numerous people have sent me a YouTube video about moving forward not moving on. (I put the link to both the video and the transcript at the end of this post.) The speaker, Nora McInerny, in the video talks about losing her first husband, Aaron, and the life she has with her current husband, Matthew. I agree with Nora so much when she says, "By any measure, life is really, really good, but I haven't "moved on." I haven't moved on, and I hate that phrase so much, and I understand why other people do. Because what it says is that Aaron's life and death and love are just moments that I can leave behind me -- and that I probably should. And when I talk about Aaron, I slip so easily into the present tense, and I've always thought that made me weird. And then I noticed that everybody does it. And it's not because we are in denial or because we're forgetful, it's because the people we love, who we've lost, are still so present for us. So, when I say, "Oh, Aaron is ..." It's because Aaron still is. And it's not in the way that he was before, which was much better, and it's not in the way that churchy people try to tell me that he would be. It's just that he's indelible, and so he is present for me. Here, he's present for me in the work that I do, in the child that we had together, in these three other children I'm raising, who never met him, who share none of his DNA, but who are only in my life because I had Aaron and because I lost Aaron. He's present in my marriage to Matthew, because Aaron's life and love and death made me the person that Matthew wanted to marry. So I've not moved on from Aaron, I've moved forward with him."
She also says, "And these people that I interview, they haven't closed themselves around this loss and made it the center of their lives. They've lived, their worlds have kept spinning. But they're talking to me, a total stranger, about the person they love who has died, because these are the experiences that mark us and make us just as much as the joyful ones. And just as permanently".
She closes her Ted talk by saying, "What can we do other than try to remind one another that some things can't be fixed, and not all wounds are meant to heal? We need each other to remember, to help each other remember, that grief is this multitasking emotion. That you can and will be sad, and happy; you'll be grieving, and able to love in the same year or week, the same breath. We need to remember that a grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again. If they're lucky, they'll even find love again. But yes, absolutely, they're going to move forward. But that doesn't mean that they've moved on."
So much of what she says is exactly where I am feeling. I am ready to live. I'm ready to experience joy. I am ready to experience love. I am ready to experience heartbreak if that's what happens.
I initially struggled with how to tell my boys and when I did finally tell them that I was thinking of joining a dating app they all laughed at my choice of app. They didn't seem phased. They are ready for me to go on a date with someone. I believe they understand that this person will never, ever, no matter what happens, replace the love I had for Steve and the love he had for us.
I now have to decide how to tell my family and Steve's family. I know that no matter how they find out there is the possibility that they are not going to be ready for me to move forward but I also know that they want me to be happy and right now this is what's making me happy.
I am moving forward but I am not forgetting.