Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Full Circle

5 PM at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport was the last time I saw him; less than eight hours later he was gone. My heart stopped for a moment on the flight home when I realized that I’d be in the exact same place, on the exact same date, exactly one year later. But as I started to plan my escape route from the airport in an effort to exit as quickly as possible, I changed my mind. No, I told myself, I am finally ready.

I believe the universe is constantly conspiring to create chances to right past mistakes, put into practice lessons that we’ve learned, and present opportunities for growth. Today at the airport was going to be one of those rare moments in time when everything comes together in a way that’s so symbolic, it can’t possibly be a coincidence. I decided on the plane ride that this meant I’d have to lean into the pain. Instead of avoiding this site like I have ever since, I needed to embrace it with my whole heart.

The seats across from the C Gate security are where we sat, clinging onto our last few minutes together. Maybe on some level our bodies knew those would be the last few minutes they’d ever share, so breaking apart was even more difficult than usual. I replayed those last few minutes in my head on a loop as the plane landed. Go to the seats, my heart told me. So I did.

Now I’m here, in the exact same seat, on the exact same date, exactly one year later. I feel the weight of an entire year of struggle, but the lift of an entire year of discovery. The full days in bed, the inability to eat, the fear of meeting someone new, they all feel like distant memories. In this seat I feel completely in control for the first time all year. 

I thought sitting here would usher in a flood of tears, but surprisingly, I'm writing this through dry eyes. It's not that there's an absence of sadness, but rather an overwhelming sense of calm that steadies my heart. Calm. Of all the adjectives I've used to describe how I've felt throughout this year, calm is definitely a new one. But I am so calm to my core that it feels like I've never known anything besides this feeling.

So here it is: full circle. One year to this date since I thought nothing in this world could ever be as good again. One year to this date that I thought life wouldn't go on, that I'd always be alone, and that I'd never truly be myself again. It's been a whole year in the making, but I made it. But not only have I made it, I've also come out on the other side stronger and with an even greater capacity to love.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Not Dying, but Passing On

I've said this a thousand times, but the greatest part of starting this blog (besides providing a space for me to spill my thoughts) has been the people it's connected me to. Some have been friends that I had no idea could relate to the things I write about, others were friends of friends who referred them to it, and the most powerful have been the complete strangers. Through a deliberate Google search or a happy accident, they came across this page. And because of this I've met some of the most inspiring women with the unfortunate burden of carrying the same scar on their hearts.

I received an email from another one of these women yesterday. I'm going to quote her because she writes so beautifully that paraphrasing wouldn't do her justice:
"For a long time, I felt very alone. Not that I didn’t have support, but I just felt like no one understood my perspective of this loss. I kept waiting for someone to come out of the woodwork and say they lost their boyfriend too and tell me how and why they were okay and surviving and that I would as well. No one ever did, but then I found you. I have been reading your blog for the past few weeks and it has been very helpful to me to have confirmation that there are other people in my same position and to hear what it has been like for you. There were entries that made me laugh and cry and many that sounded like you were saying exactly what was in my head. Most important to me was the proof that you are making it, and so if you can, then maybe I can too."

I was alone in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens when I read her words. The wind started to blow and my skin grew prickly with goosebumps. They were the same goosebumps that have always let me know Blake is with me. I felt him in the wind, on my skin, and filling my heart. It was a magical moment when time stood still and the world was perfectly beautiful.

I read on and noticed that she included a link to a video at the bottom. I can't even describe the spoken word poem by Michael Lee because it is just too perfect. You'll have to listen to it yourself:

This amazing woman whom I am so lucky to have met through my blog also said something so moving that I've been thinking about it ever since I read it:
"But you know, the thing about forever, I have realized, is that it is not necessarily some point on a distant horizon that you only reach after a long and happy life. Some forevers are shorter than others. Forever is any moment in time that you wish would last and last and never end. Forever can be just one blink of an eye. Forever is happening right now. And I am so, so eternally grateful for the small forever that Bryan and I had."

Today I am so grateful for my small forever with Blake.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

This Time Last Year

After seeing a friend post a picture using an app called "Timehop," I decided to download it. The app syncs with your phone's photo gallery, Instagram, and Facebook accounts to show you pictures that were taken on each date years prior.

Every morning I've been opening the app with both anticipation and dread. The pictures that it's found from seven, five, or three years ago have been making me laugh. It's given me the opportunity to relive high school graduation parties, college, studying abroad, and everything in between. But the pictures from one year ago have been the most interesting for me to see. As the days get closer to May 28th I am constantly reminded that it's almost been an entire year since Blake has been in our lives.

More so than ever before, I find myself starting sentences in my mind with "This time last year..." as I recall so many lasts:

This time last year Blake and I went to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and had one of the best days of my entire life.

This time last year I dropped him off at the San Jose Airport for the last time.

This time last year I took off two days of work so I could spend an entire week with Blake for Memorial Day Weekend.

This time last year...
This time last year...

Although the nostalgia has been somewhat upsetting, I've been surprised by how okay I feel. It's almost scary how detached I am from the memories of this time last year that the app places on my screen. I look at the pictures with love and fondness, but it feels kind of like I'm looking at people I knew a long time ago. The couple looks vaguely familiar, as if they were my close friends from another lifetime.

As the days of reminiscing have gone on, I've started to believe that this feeling of loving detachment comes from the fact that this time last year, I was a different person. Maybe the reason why the couple looks like people I knew in another lifetime is because it really was another lifetime. Maybe life as I knew it has finally started to come to a close and a new life has started to begin.

It's new and scary and a bit uncomfortable, but I finally feel like I'm ready. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

It's May and I'm Terrified

I'm terrified of May. I'm terrified of the 28th
I'm terrified of spending the entire month being terrified of May 28th

I have plenty of distractions between now and then (finals, Cape Cod, my sister's graduation), but when I give myself even a second to pause between planning for any of those three things, May 28th pours down on me from a dark cloud.

May 28th. 
May 28th. 
May 28th. 

I'm drenched in May 28th. Soaked to the bone in its significance.

I've been told that the days leading up to an anniversary are often harder than the date itself. The waiting, anticipating, and dreading build up and turn a harmless number on the calendar into a black hole. The line that separates the 27th and 28th somehow becomes a cliff. Reaching the end of one day means stepping off into...


Nothing horrible will happen on May 28th.

I'm making May 28th into the black hole I thought September 21st (his birthday) would be or that I thought November 23rd (our anniversary) would be. But on each of those days I crossed from one number on the calendar to the next the same way I did every other day of the year. There was no black hole waiting for me on the other side of the line.

But even knowing this doesn't stop me from being terrified.
I'm terrified of May. I'm terrified of the 28th.