May 31.

On this day last year my husband died.

We were married for my whole adult life — twenty-three years.

We were married when I was three weeks from being 20. “Hey 19” by Steely Dan was our inside joke.

Mercier was my lover, friend, mentor, champion, and pastor.

He was my whole world.

Looking Back

In the first nine months that Mercier died, there were four other deaths. For someone who had little experience with grief, experiencing five deaths in nine months was overwhelming.

  • My husband
  • My brother-in-law
  • My dog
  • My dad
  • My nephew

But in the last year, I’ve also traveled to five cities I’ve never been to.

  • Cincinnati
  • Philadelphia
  • Nashville
  • Atlanta
  • Chicago

Living on my own — alone.

Besides being a teenager, this is the first full year I’ve lived on my own. Actually alone. Because, dogs don’t count.

I know that I have friends. I have amazing friends.

I know that I have God. Jesus is with me.

But I am alone. That’s not something that can be dismissed. It’s truth.

I alone am responsible to pay the rent, utilities, and other fixed costs. I alone have to shop and do chores. It’s all down to me.

There were days where I didn’t think I could do it.

But I have.

Nice Surprises Along The Way

I’ve had some surprises this year. Good and bad.

I’m working on focusing on the good — the surprise friendships. The deep connection that only that kind of pain can bring. The vulnerable talks, the tears, and the laughter that overcame it.

I’ve learned to travel this year. I’ve learned to appreciate change — though, I’m still not as good at accepting it as I could be.

I’ve learned to look for beauty — even if it’s a reflection of a building upon the glass of another.

I can stand there and say, “wow.”

When the best thing can be taken away, you learn to cherish moments — looking at tulips, taking photos, remembering friends.

Mercier was the kind of person who was fully invested in any conversation he had. I want to live that kind of life.

To me, that’s how I honor his legacy.

So I said goodbye. Again. Alone.

Mercier was my husband. I was responsible for him and he for me.

It was important to me to disperse his remains on my own — alone.

I went to the beach. Talked to him on the way down, softly sung “Amazing Grace,” and carried him into the ocean.

The waves came in and I opened the bag, the cold surf surrounded my legs which felt oddly comforting. I laughed. Mercier would have laughed, too. So, I walked through the surf and let him out. He used to say he wanted to surf in Heaven. This felt right to me.

Being at Peace

So, today was a day to be the independent person Mercier wanted me to become.

And say goodbye.

And prepare to be own my own.

And prepare for a future without him.

And so I did.

Thank you, Mercier, for making me who I am today.

I will always love you.

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