April 18, 2009. It was a Saturday morning. One of those cloudless, vibrant blue-sky spring mornings in Virginia. The kind of morning that sends people outdoors early. To garden, do yardwork, see what’s growing that needs to be cut. And that’s where David was. Outdoors. Mowing the lawn.
It was also Easter week. Less than a week earlier, we’d celebrated the gift of resurrection and new life.
Springtime. Easter. A dying of what had been. Transformation. New life.
The symbolism of all that has not been lost on me.
This being the 10th anniversary, I wanted to take the entire day to do something special to commemorate this man in my life – a man who appreciated my sense of adventure, even if he didn’t always want to come along.
He was secure enough to let go and say, “You go, honey.”
And while I went exploring outdoors, he stayed indoors watching “the game.”
So, for today, in honor of David letting me be free to fully be myself, I planned a hike and quiet time in nature, bringing my journal along.
But first I had a mammogram. Something I’d scheduled months earlier without thinking about what date it fell on. Funny thing is, as I was filling out the paperwork at the imaging center this morning, I remembered the first mammogram I had done after David died. Only one month had passed. When I got to the line in the paperwork that requested an emergency contact, I stopped. My eyes filled with tears. Who would be my emergency contact now? I couldn’t put Davis. He had just turned 15. I thought of neighbors, friends, my sister in Raleigh. But I didn’t want to put anyone else’s name. I only wanted David to be there for me.
This morning, filling out the paperwork, it all felt quite different. None of that unbearable well of grief threatening me like an undertow. None of that sadness knowing I can’t go back to the way things were.
Instead, I felt happy with my new life. I recognized how blessed I am. How free I am to choose, every day, how I want to live.
That recognition in itself, of how far I’ve come, was worth the discomfort of the mammogram.
I used to think, especially in the beginning, why am I still here? Why did David have to die? Why couldn’t it have been me? In the midst of my grief, I would tell myself that Davis needed his dad more than he did me. It may seem silly now, but I genuinely felt inadequate for the task of raising a teenage son on my own. I felt unprepared – mentally, emotionally, financially. I worried about so many things.
Over time I’ve come to see that, beyond what my insecure ego was telling me, I do have a purpose. And it’s not simply raising Davis well. Although that was certainly extremely important in itself.
I am here to learn how to love. It’s a lesson I’ve been slowly learning. And I have a long way to go.
During my hike I stopped to sit on a rock (what else can you sit on in the desert?) to write in my journal about David and the “deathless beauty” of love, as Jim Finley explains it. How this love that can never die is pouring itself out as my life and everything around me. How that same love that David and I expressed for each other is alive in other couples I see caring for each other. I especially recognize it in those who have been married a long time and have these little expressions of familiarity and endearment. The preciousness of it makes me smile. I’m thinking about this love when I get a text from Davis, all the way in Nome, telling me how much he loves me and his dad, and he’ll be thinking about us today.
Yes, love is deathless. No matter what form it takes. No matter how physically distant it seems.
It pours itself out infinitely. Encompassing everything. And 10 years later, I’m still learning to pause and take it in.