Over the weekend Julia and I were in the front yard of our house, doing nothing in particular, just sitting together on the front step and feeling the first crisp of Fall, a welcome respite from brutal breath stealing heat and humidity. I’ve found that most of all, especially after marrying Andy, what Julia wants most is to talk to me. To have the full attention which she now as to share with him and to be really listened to without distraction.
Julia is all long limbs and pre-pre-tween-ness now. Early attempts at biting sarcasm and “too cool for school” attitude she puts on; a costume of grown up behaviors, still trying them out for size though they pool at her feet like a too large dress. My Little Pony on Netflix has made way for Descendants movies and she has grown so much in the past year while the dates on the calendars furiously flipped by. She’s still a child trying too hard, as have generations before her, to grow up.
But Saturday afternoon, kicking the early fallen leaves she asked, “When did you last cry about missing Daddy?” I laughed quietly and said, “This morning” She looked shocked, large brown eyes searching for if I was teasing her. But I was not. I had woken up that morning, turned to Andy and burst into tears because I missed Wesley. Truth be told it had been building for about a week. The song I heard in CVS, the same one Wesley had put on a mixed tape early in our dating days caused my eyes to prick with unshed tears; the friend of Julia’s who told her that she had a new dad now in Andy so everything was better and Julia has to gently explain that is not how it works. That she’s still sad, misses Wesley and mourns the fact that she remembers so little about him and a host of other tiny triggers that had nicked my heart all week. So instead of waking up with excitement about the weekend that sprawled before us Andy hugged me as I sobbed about missing the man before him. That I wanted Wesley there and that still, over 4 years later, I’m still in mourning.
I think that is a common misconception, one I’m sure I too would have if I had not myself lost a husband so young, that I have moved on and all is better with the Book of my life with Wesley now closed and on the high shelf. That I’m never backward gazing and just moving right on with my life. Andy is my new Book so it is neat and tidy with one man’s love supplanted by another. But that book of my life before Andy, and the chapters unwritten, is something I examine in the quiet moments and think of what could have been. At times those empty pages are too much to bear and my heart, newly healed breaks once more for all that has been lost and unfulfilled. I have committed to facing forward as I can, focusing on the joys of my current life and the knowledge that Wesley would wish happiness and peace for Julia, myself and I think for Andy as well. Yes, but still. But yet, my heart; oh my heart is shattered and no time will fully change that reality. I’m blessed with a current husband who understands and comforts me when I cry and remember all that way planned, but was not to be.
Every step of Julia’s that propels away from childhood and toward the life ahead of her is awesome (in the truest form of the word; to be filled with awe) and I know Wesley can see her, though he is unseen to us.
As the Fall comes, the chill in the air beginning the advent of cooler days and the need to huddle inside among those we love I think about the little girl who is a daily reminder of her father and my love and I tear up for a whole other reason, my heart aching with pride and awe.