A glorious mess…

Eight months into this journey, and I gotta say, I’m pretty proud of us—we’re doing just awesome. We’re happy, we’re smiling, we’re living, we’re enjoying. We’re also devastatingly sad. We cry. We feel lonely, and left out. We are moving forward, and finding new friendships and loving life. We’re also mourning a life we used to live, and someone we’ll never get to hold again in this world. 

Here’s the thing friends, one thing we have started to notice is how much people want to assume our situation is simply black-and-white. People see that we do things to fill our days, we laugh and we really do enjoy life, and somehow they think we’re all “okay” now. I genuinely hadn’t planned on correcting anyone’s thoughts on my life, well, because who cares, right? But when I think about how many people find themselves in my shoes, how many of us feel judged, how many of us feel pressure to either be happy, or be sad, but not both…it’s just asinine. It seems that there are a lot of “ideas” out there about how people are supposed to act/behave/live after loss. They think there are time restrictions on things: grief, sadness, moving on, pain, etc. We also hear a lot of conjecture about how we do things. “I could never..” “I don’t know how you do it…” “I don’t think I could handle…” or the best, the one that makes you feel like you’re doing something wrong by trying to live, “I don’t even know how you get out of bed.” I’m happy that for most of you, what I’m experiencing is a hypothetical. I’m genuinely grateful that I’m in the minority, because being widowed at thirty-five was something I never envisioned for my life, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. That said, there is no rulebook on how to live afterwards. There is no one way that’s “right” to grieve. I can only tell you that I do feel happiness. I feel joy, and love, and pride; I also feel lonely, and sad, and robbed of a life I was “supposed” to have. 

Case in point? I’ve been having a great time lately (maybe too great based on my level of tiredness). Parties, evenings out with friends, playdates, parades—the works. I have a beautiful house being built in which I’m about to make a life with my kids. I have friends that I really connect with, which is something I didn’t even know I was missing! I live in this place that feels too good to be true; beautiful, warm, friendly, and great schools, to boot. Yet, yesterday, Benny came home with a less than stellar report card. Nothing major, nothing terrible, nothing earth shattering, but all I wanted to do in the world was talk to Kenny about it. I had such a flash of him sitting in his office while I’d rattle on about whatever concern I was having about the kids; and him, as only Kenny could do, pretty much telling me it was adorable how crazy I was. The kids are fine. I was overreacting. In reality, I’m not alone; I bounced my worries off of my friends, and they were wonderful, helpful and reassuring; but once there was only one person in the world who could be as frustrated with the kids and love them as much as I do. Only one person who could be as angry, annoyed and overwhelmed by them, and yet know we’d both move the earth, sun and moon for them, because he was their parent, like me. It was fucking gut-wrenching to feel that emptiness yesterday, of not having that person who would feel exactly the same; that partnership, that kinship that comes with having a child together, at least the connection we had because of it. 

That feeling? That emptiness? It’s never going away. If I had a billion dollars, and could afford all the luxuries this world had to offer, that piece would still be missing. If I fall in love again, if I fall in love TEN TIMES, that piece would still be missing. If I became the most successful woman in the world, and my kids all became the happiest and most successful people on the planet, that piece would still be missing. So can we be happy? Hell yeah. We can live, and love and enjoy, but a piece of us went with him. A piece we’ll never recover. We have to be at peace with that. Every day we’ll feel happy, we’ll feel sad, we’ll feel excited, we’ll feel pain. I read a quote the other day that said “Embrace the glorious mess you are.” And I thought, well if that’s not just perfect for life, I don’t know what is. There is no one category for anyone, friends…life, feelings, emotions, love, loss…its all a glorious mess. 

Megan Courtney