I've been having some pretty vivid flashbacks this month. Like things that happened just before his death, and just some random things about him I had forgotten. It brings him right back to me, which is cool. Sometimes those moments catch me off guard and throw me and cause me to crumble, but I'll never regret having those moments, because to me, it means his spirit is with me. I'll take that any way I can get it.
Some things I've learned over these last four years have been extremely valuable. First, having had this experience gives me certain tools. It's a bittersweet thing... When you have a friend facing this kind of devastation, one of the worst feelings is that of helplessness. I now have some tools that can put me in a better position to help, even though there's nothing that can take away the pain. Unfortunately, I have had several friends go through this over the last four years (a couple just recently), but hopefully I've been able to help them through a little.
I also have a good friend who is faced with her own mortality with breast cancer. Having such an intimate relationship with death through Matt's loss also has helped me to deal a bit better with her situation. I feel like I can talk more freely about things that most people are afraid to verbalize. I also know that death isn't the end all. In this case, I don't know if it's necessarily helped her, but it's helping me a little...
I feel more of a sense of responsibility to use what I've learned to help more than I could have before, and while that's hard, it's rewarding. And it helps to make Matt's loss not such a waste. It proves that something good really can come out of something so bad.
Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation has been an integral part of getting me through and giving me a lot of these resources to help others facing a major loss. I can't talk about this stuff and not mention them. They are amazing, and I've met so many wonderful people and made lifelong friendships through them.
Another huge lesson I've learned over these years is how to live, and do it mostly without fear. I've moved three times - twice across the country, and the third time over several states. I NEVER would have thought I'd do it once, let alone three times! My kids have been troopers, and we've been on one "adventure" after another. Our adventures from here on out will include travel (not as much as before, though), but no more moving. Thank GOD. I am SO over that.
There's an inner strength I never knew existed that lives in me. And the more time that goes by, the stronger it seems to get. Just the simple fact that I survived four days let alone four YEARS with Matt's loss is a miracle to me, and I'm finally able to say I'm pretty damn proud of what I've been able to accomplish during that time. Primarily, raising my happy, healthy kids.
I've lost a certain innocence through all this. It's like Eve taking a bite of the apple, except someone whipped the apple at my head - I didn't voluntarily take a bite... My eyes have been opened and I've gained some important life knowledge, wisdom and perspective. The kind that most old people have. The kind that makes me want to roll my eyes at other grown-ups around my age who have their priorities all out of whack. I'm FAR from perfect, and I've made mistakes and I know I will make more, but this is one thing I feel like I have going for me.
The most important thing in life is love. Love never dies, and one's capacity to give love and receive love is absolutely limitless. This is perhaps the biggest lesson I've learned so far.
I miss my husband with everything in me, and I will continue to do so until I take my last breath. But I'll always be grateful for the time we had together and the amazing gifts he has given me - in life and in death.
And I will always hate November 15th.
And I will always hate November 15th.