Tomorrow Wesley will have been gone for year. How I have navigated the days and weeks, living often in a fog, will always allude me. I look at pictures of parties and festivities I have attended since last March having no recollection of being there or what I said. I probably talked about Wesley, because that is what I talk about, what think about. I am comforted talking about him, keeping him alive through words and stories. It goes back to Julia’s belief that heartbeats are the way that those in Heaven speak to us because every pulse in my veins and every breath in my lungs tells the story of him, of us, of our beautiful family.
I have thought a great deal about March 30th as a bright line in the road of my life, the date that separates my life as it was and my life as it is now. I went from wife to widow; part of a strong parenting team to a single mother in an instant. But in looking back I can see illuminated not just the date that my life and world was torn apart but the way that date has cast a glow on dates before. I try to not focus on the frenzied and terrifying morning of March 30th because it causes my mind to fill with fear and my blood to turn to ice. Instead I think of March 25th and Wesley and I laughing and hugging in the kitchen, the smell of Wesley’s meatloaf cooking in the oven while Julia played around us. I think of Christmas 2009, in his hometown of Hampton, VA when a proud Wesley showed off his new baby girl. I think of days of laughing at my family beach house together or sitting in his family kitchen surrounded by loving family and children. I think of quiet moments of inconsequence, each second of memory precious to me. My life has been beautifully illuminated by Wesley and the warmth I find there makes my fears subside about my future.
In the past year I have been surrounded by such love. Men and women and children whose selflessness towards me and those that I love is awe inspiring. The way Julia’s friends and family offer support to her, their brand of playground love and acceptance, touches me deeply. My friends and family who have loved and cradled me in times of deepest despair and have not turned away in discomfort as I cried or talked about my raw feelings will always be close to my heart. I cannot repay the kindness I have experienced.
Often I am told how strong I am and how proud people are of me. I do not feel pride or strength, I feel like I am trying to survive a day with grace and love. Nothing more. I worry that I will not honor Wesley’s memory enough for Julia, that I will not show the love he had for others through my own words and actions. I want to make him proud of the woman I am and how I am raising the beautiful child we created.
Tonight I am at our family beach house. A place that feels very comfortable because of the happy times we had here with many summer evenings of laughing until late into the night on the front screened porch and days of sitting in the warm sand, our eyes squinted as we watched Julia splash in the frothy green gulf waters. It was where I needed to be tonight. I needed familiar and happy memories. I needed security and solace.
I lay beside Julia tonight, my constant companion who provides hugs and a constant litany of “I love you” along with armfuls of loveys when I feel sad. We are a team, a twosome who fight through our grief together. Her tiny hand grasped firmly in mine, braced by the love felt here on earth and in our hearts by our dearest Wesley. He holds her other hand, unseen.