Today marks one year since I held my husband's hand for the last time. It has been a year of pain, agony, anxiety, fear, and great and overwhelming sadness. But I survived. This past year was an all-consuming fire that consumed plans for a life that could no longer be.
There are so many things that I learned during my time in the fire. One of the most important things that I learned is that love is truly what sustains us. There wasn't a single thought or prayer that did me any good, but what gave me strength and support was the love of those around me. It was the love I saw in the bravery of those who weren't afraid to talk about my grief. It was from those who weren't afraid to see me and my pain and love me for who I was and what I was going through.
I learned that people love in interesting and unexpected ways. Love came to me in the hugs and presence of family. It came to me in unexpected texts from a new friend. It came to me in extended and deep chats with a longtime friend. It came to me in the support of neighbors. Love came to me in sweet little girl voices simply saying, "Papa, I love you."
I needed that love. I fell completely apart. Everything I thought I knew about a life built for two suddenly needed to become a life built for one and I found myself overwhelmed. I was trying to hold together a life that wasn't right for me and my girls. But in that time, everything I had learned about myself in the last 16 years, all of the good my husband had brought out in me, began to take hold. You see, one of the things about a great romance is that you grow with each other. And grow I had. All the lessons about being worthy, never settling, and knowing that I have the power to change my stars were still there. He amplified the good in me, and that good is still there -- just ready to evolve.
Today I honor him for all that he brought to my life. I celebrate him for the richness, the beauty and the laughter. So much laughter. As the last bits of an old life burn away it's time to spread my wings for a new one. It's time to rise from the ashes and fly headlong into what life has to offer. Even though grief and sadness remain -- as they will always remain -- there will be a new and different joy. While I will forever miss him, I am certainly a better man for having built a life with one of the most amazing men I've ever known.