I think visually, I do not know when I noticed that I think in images, but I do. Things click for me when I can see them in my mind.
My husband, Brian, passed away on January, 21, 2017 from heart failure. He never liked going to wakes and funerals. I grew up going to them and feeling like it was part of life and seeing the person in the casket was just part of the process. When he died, I honored him by not having a wake, no open casket, just a reception at the church before and after the funeral mass.
I recently told my boss that Brian’s dying was like in the Monsters, Inc. movie when Boo’s door gets shredded. Sulley will never be able to go see Boo again. I am 41 and for some reason a child’s movie helps me visualize and put into an explainable concept about what it is like when your husband dies. Granted, Sulley and Boo do get reunited. It’s a kids movie, right?
For me, the first year has been learning that my door with Brian got shredded. I cannot get Brian back and the life that I shared with him is closed. I can savor memories in my mind and smile when I see things that remind me of him, like this morning on the way to work I drove past a truck that had three children’s boats going back to the local park that has a kiddie boat ride. My husband loved that ride as a small child. We took our daughter there many times to continue that lovely experience, to continue the love.
Now that it’s been almost fourteen months since he passed, I feel like the earthquake that was the first year has stopped. The earth has stopped shaking and I look around at the rubble. I see the house is damaged, things are not smooth and not working easily. I do not feel anymore, like I am in a daily earthquake. I feel different though. While the earth is not shaking, my eyesight has changed, someone changed the prescription in my glasses. It is not that I am not ‘ok’. I am here. I have food, shelter, family, friends, etc. I have my health and I am making it to work most days and my daughter gets to school most days without being late because of me.
But my glasses have changed, there is rubble around me. Thankfully, I know I do not need to explain this to people to be ok, but I want to feel ok. I am scared. At 41, I see more clearly how fragile life is and I do not want to shut down because of that awareness. I want to continue to live and not come from a place of feeling like I need to save people. I need to save myself. I want to love those that I love and not have anxiety that they may leave me. They aren’t mine to keep. This is my rubble. How to continue and to love and to be and to be ok with the rubble, the new eyeglass prescription and loved ones leaving either by choice or by death. How to love without trying to save and how to love without fear of loss? How to love me in this rubble, blurry place?
I had happy tears when I saw those kiddie boats today. It made me think of Brian and how boats were one of the defining things in his life even as an adult. My door with him may have been shredded and this isn’t a kids movie, but thankfully, the love we shared is still in my heart and I can access that.
Mara Larson lives and works in North Carolina. This is her first article submitted to Second Firsts, and she taps into the emotion of how seeing an object can bring back countless memories from your life with someone. We hope to hear more from Mara in the future.