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I'm struggling.

It’s as easy and complicated as that; I’m struggling. I had lunch with my best friend this week and she asked me point blank, “How come you haven’t written anything recently?” I immediately got defensive and came up with a list of lame reasons as to why I’ve been too busy to write, but inside I knew as I told her and I know as I write this, it’s because I’m struggling right now and it’s difficult and embarrassing to admit. The faster time moves on and the further we get from 20 May 2018, the harder it is to admit my heart hasn’t healed, and even with a smile on my face, I’m still really sad. It feels like I should be further forward in the process of mourning or healing or grieving.

There have been so many happy moments these last two and a half years, so many reasons to smile and laugh and celebrate, but those don’t replace the grief and devastation I still feel inside when I think about Brian not being here and it’s hard to give myself grace with these emotions that seem to conflict with one another. How can I be happy if I’m so sad? How can I be so sad if I’m happy?

My life has been so full – so occupied with projects and kids and friends, even a romance in there too, but as the books start to get published, the documentary released, the travel plans cancelled, the relationships running their course, and the friends busy with their own lives and families, I’m forced to spend a lot of time with myself and in my own thoughts, and those thoughts keep turning to sadness. I don’t know if it was a perfect storm of circumstance, or what, but this past week has been so overwhelmingly Brian focused. So many memories and visions, strange coincidences that have popped up – the emotion of it has been completely overwhelming, so I’m now back at my keyboard trying to get it out of me.

This week, I dreamt of him for the second time since he died. I could hear his voice, I could feel his hand touching mine. I was so happy in this dream, we were back together, laughing and doing life as a family.. he was watching the kids, he was smiling at me and we were holding hands.. it was all so vivid. Even though I haven’t felt him next to me for two and a half years, I was so convinced it was real… but then I woke up. I woke up happy, feeling loved and taken care of – and then I realized it had been a dream.. a terrible moment of realization when I felt my heart break all over again knowing that this wonderful dream has actually been a terrible nightmare and that he’s really gone. A moment of desperation when I realized I’ll never hear his voice again. He’s really gone forever.

The next morning I was on my computer and got an unexpected email from somebody I’d been wondering if they’d ever reach out – somebody from Brian’s former life before he and I were married. It was a welcome surprise, but after two and a half years, the timing of it just seemed uncanny, and another reminder there are people all over the world feeling his loss and mourning his presence. He left such a mark on this world and all of those who met him, I know it hits people at different times, but his loss is really a loss for all who knew him.Two days after this, a family friend of Brian’s mom reached out to tell us she’d had a dream about Brian and needed to share it with us since it was so out of nowhere. In the message she said, “I know this might seem weird, but I had a really vivid dream last night of Brian and I woke up in the middle of the night and thought I can not forget it. In my dream, Brian was asking me please let Ashley know I am ok and tell her how much I love her and the kids. Tell all of my family I love them. He also said to remind Ashley of our first date. I know this is just be a dream but it was really vivid and I just felt like I should tell you.”

I’m not religious, I’m not spiritual, I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I know bad things happen to good people, I think coincidences and things we can’t explain happen all the time – and I’m ok with not being able to explain them.. but this week has just been one thing after another leading back to him and it’s got me in a funk. I just him so devastatingly much. I miss our life together, I miss the love we shared, but more than anything I just miss him. It’s been two and a half years, and I still wish things were different. I still think it’s not fair and I still feel sorry for myself. I wish I could go back in time and tell him to quit the class, to stay home with the kids and I. I wish he could see the kids growing up, I wish the kids could hear his voice and get to know him. I wish they could feel how much he loved them.

I know I’m doing everything I can possibly think of to let them know him through these stories, and through these projects, and through photos and videos, and through everything you’re all doing to make them feel so loved – but it’s just not the same. When I force myself to be real, I know it’s because I’m not ready to let him go yet and admit all I have are the memories of what once was. It’s been two and a half years since I last touched him, but I’m still not ready to say goodbye. And maybe this is normal, maybe this is how grief works, or maybe this is just the desperate crying from a heart that’s been broken and shattered beyond repair.

I know I’m strong, and I know I’ve been through the unimaginable, and I know I will continue to push forward and find things to smile about and that there are plenty of good days ahead – just as there have always been, and will always be. I know this to be true, but today, I’m struggling with it and I needed to get that out.


Thank you for listening. xo


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Lessons of turning tragedy into triumph 

from a military widow

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