I would like to thank you for all of the emails and cards that have been sent. I have read and truly appreciate each one. I am sorry for my lack of response to the emails.. it’s been difficult to know what to say.
But, the question of how I’m doing has been posed a few times, so I thought I would try to write. I don’t have an answer that anyone probably wants to hear. I feel like most people want to hear or are hoping that I’m doing alright. I’m getting better. I’m finding hope and peace in the Lord. The truth… I’m not. I’m not alright. My hope in the Lord does not give me peace or comfort in each moment that I’m alive… it only gives me comfort that my hope doesn’t have to be here in this life. For me to try to “be happy” or “be okay” minimizes the depth and reality of the pain I face each day. It minimizes how much I love Will, what he was in my life, the intense suffering, the terribleness that death is. So what I am is sad and mad and I miss Will with an excruciating intensity with every breath I take. The hell of this past year didn’t end with Will’s passing. I re-live the hell each day, each moment, only now I live it alone.
We live in a world where we all want to be happy. We want to feel safe from harm and pain and grief. We want those around us to be happy and fun and to enjoy life. Life is more fun, the days are easier that way. But, what do you do when you’re the one who reminds everyone that we’re all going to die…that your world can go dark in an instant…that there is no protection from it and no one is exempt? What do you do when you know that the moment you walk into the room the dynamic will change…laughter and fun will turn to heaviness and grief, unless you put on a happy face so that others don’t have to experience your reality and go where they don’t want to go? What do you do when you look in the mirror and all you see is pain? And, what do you do when you feel like you might for the first time ever, actually see the world for what it is…how the majority of the world lives each day, instead of through the American lens of a “long, healthy, happy” life? It’s lonely. It’s a deep, painful loneliness. It’s a loneliness that makes me miss and grieve Will even more than I already did, if that were even possible. It’s a loneliness that I feel like only he would understand as I would cry and tell him of this new world I live in, the one without him. Because he knew how to sit with me in my darkness like no one else. He wasn’t afraid of it. He wasn’t trying to protect “a happy life” from it. He knew of the deep darkness this world holds in a very real way, so he wasn’t afraid of it in others, in me.
So, what do you do when you feel like you live in a completely different world then almost everyone around you?
The lives Will and I were living already looked quite different than the norm. Will was brilliant. He could have done anything he wanted. We could have lived a quieter, calmer, maybe easier or less stressful life if we had chosen a different path, but Will (and I) never ordered our lives so that we would live “long, healthy, happy” lives. Will wanted to live, really live. This past year he fought harder than anyone (myself included) could ever comprehend, but it wasn’t just to enjoy life longer. It was because he believed he had more work to do. His goal, our goal, was never to “protect” our lives. He told me when we were dating that he didn’t think he would live to see 30 yrs. That completely freaked me out and I would think about it often, especially when 30 got closer. Will didn’t make decisions to live life longer or safer. He made decisions in an effort to pursue excellence at whatever cost to himself because he believed so deeply in what he did and in the people around him and in the God he served. When I met him, my dreams were not couched in “safety and security,” but I also lived with a lot of fear. Those two together collided quite often and left me confused and emotional. With Will, the fear that I lived with became less because what I really wanted, I saw him live. Marrying him was not at all “settling down.” It was jumping on a roller coaster with many highs and many lows that sometimes left me feeling sick and other times exhilarated. Whether we were in a low or high or somewhere in the middle, we were always together. Many times, Will was asked about getting a “real job” or “putting a deadline on chasing his dream.” But, it wasn’t about any of that to us. It wasn’t just a dream. It wasn’t about trying to achieve some great success. We were just living our lives, at least trying to. We were living them with a mindset that did not include length. Of course, if we could have picked we would have chosen to live a long life together, but that wasn’t our first thought. That wasn’t the thought that ordered our lives. So, now I sit here, with this worldview where we already felt alone at times, but had each other and a hope we held on to. Only now, facing that same direction, the veil has been completely torn down for me. And, all the fear that I’ve ever had is gone. I now see the world through the eyes of suffering and pain and I’m not afraid of it. My greatest fear happened…I have nothing left to be afraid of. That changes the way I view myself in this world. It changes the way I view others who are hurting and suffering.
It’s not that I don’t ever want to laugh again or have any type of happiness or enjoyment again, but those things for me come with grief. I can’t laugh without immediate sadness that Will isn’t here to laugh with me or enjoy anything without wanting to enjoy it with him. I don’t want to ever be “okay” with this because it’s just not okay. But, who wants to be this person? Who wants to have the veil ripped down? And who wants to be around someone like this…the person that brings down the room? My guess is no one. No one who can’t enter into that darkness and understand where the hope is and what the hope looks like. The hope that for me, that keeps me breathing each day, just isn’t here on earth, but is still a hope that is real. I don’t blame anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to enter in. I think the darkness can be so much darker than we would ever think. I know mine is and as much as I would have hoped that I could or would enter in with someone else, I know that I never did until this last year with Will and I don’t know if I could have with anyone else. It was a deep, unconditional love and togetherness that made the darkness not seem so dark at the time. But, I just don’t think we were created to experience the kind of darkness that exists in the world. I think that is why I had to make the choice to shut down all of my emotions this year just so I could function and be what Will needed. And, why it’s really hard now to not live my life in the third person, disassociating myself from what I face each day. And, why I think it’s so hard to sit with each other in the darkest of dark places and not be afraid of it. I just don’t think we were made for this. It is too much to bear. Maybe that’s depressing to be around and to hear…I doubt that it’s what anyone really wants, but it’s real.
And, the hope…The hope is a real hope in the world where there is no darkness to sit in. And, in a hope where more times than not we try to enter in with each other to truly love, knowing that the darkness may be much darker than we think but the darkness may also not seem so dark if we’re in it together. My hope is real in the midst of a deep darkness that is just as real.