One year later
As I look back at this day last year, I realize that this year's September 9th is different from last year's. This morning I woke up with Wyatt in my bed. Today is sunny. Ironically, I am wearing the same Texas Tech Accounting T-shirt that I wore last year when I got the news that Isaac had died in a car accident. Last year, I woke up with my husband's arms around me. The day was overcast and breezy. That day changed me forever.
When I reflect back on this last year I feel a variety of emotions. I feel grateful for the outpouring of love I have felt. I feel excited about starting my doctorate program. I feel exhausted from grief. I feel lonely without my best friend. I feel angry that Isaac died. And I feel scared that healing or relief may not come as quickly as I feel I need it to.
As the year mark was approaching, I realized that the pain pierces even more than it did before. This is disappointing because subconsciously I hoped that a year would change something. Maybe it would feel like progress but in some ways I feel worse. I'm more used to being a widow and a single parent but it's still ridiculously hard. The hardest part is having to admit to myself that I'm really angry.
I'm angry at God. I'm angry because this is so hard. I get angry at God when little things make my life more complicated. Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's the ticks (some of you know about the tick infestation that was at my home), or some other inconvenience. When these things happen, I think, "Really God? You couldn't have prevented this? I really didn't need this on top of everything else." I don't like being angry at God but it's hard to be humble or compliant when pain keeps coming. I can't see how this could really be for the best. How could this be for the best when nothing feels better?
I'm angry at Isaac. It isn't rational but the feeling is real. When Isaac was alive he was pretty adamant that he wanted to die before me. Of course, I always thought that this would be something that happened when we were older. I kind of hoped, for his sake, that it would turn out that way. But, I didn't think it would be this soon. And now that he is gone, I have intense feelings that I have to be strong, survive, and live for my kids. I'm not sure why, but it feels like my will to live is the thing that makes this possible. So, I have this irrational thought that had Isaac understood better, if he had really been able to see how much I needed him, then maybe he would have fought to stay. I know that Isaac didn't have a choice and that I am projecting what I feel onto Isaac. The truth is that sometimes I don't know how to show that I actually need people. A lot of times I get this feeling that people just assume that I'm strong. There has always been this message that "Rebecca will be fine." But I think we all know that "fine" is an euphemism. I've tried to be better about reaching out and letting people help me, but it's hard for me to be the receiver when I see myself as a giver. It's hard to recognize that I might be the one who is suffering more.
I expected that time would lessen the pain, that I would get used to Isaac being gone. Instead, I miss him more and feel his absence more deeply. I needed Isaac not to die. And as time goes by it becomes more clear just how much I lost. Recently, I went to an Aaron Watson concert with some friends. He has this song that I love called, "Barbed Wire Halo." I put that song on the video we made for Isaac's funeral. It's a song about a country man who died and it always reminded me of Isaac. There is a part in the song where it talks about this man's wife dying in childbirth. The song continues, "He lost his whole world from the far side of the earth. He lost the will to love. He lost the will to live, until he met a man who taught him to forgive." It's interesting that he talks about forgiveness as the thing that healed this man's grief. After Isaac died, I remember thinking a lot about forgiveness being important for my grief but I wasn't sure what that meant. Maybe I couldn't figure it out because I wasn't angry then. And it may seem weird to think that I need to forgive Isaac or God because objectively, they did no wrong. Whenever I think about forgiveness, I think about it as a personal reconciling or letting go of anger. I'm not sure what this all means but I know that my anger is helping me to understand my loss better. Often in my life, I have felt guilt about being angry. Anger has always seemed to represent some sort of spiritual or emotional deficit. I don't think that way anymore. When I let myself be angry, it helps me to know where I'm really hurting. I can't heal what I don't know is broken. I'm not sure how long I will be mad at God and Isaac. Maybe when I'm done airing all my grievances, I'll hand over the talking stick and really get somewhere.
This is so hard. It hurts to not have Isaac in my life. I started school two weeks ago, and I was so sad because I wished Isaac was around for this. I'm sad that he doesn't get to meet my new friends. I miss him as my cheerleader. He'd be so proud and excited for me. I've had a lot of really great friends in my life but I never had a best friend like Isaac. My life is pretty great and I feel excited about the things I'm doing, but I just wish my best friend was here with me. I think I've said it before but as hard as it is to not have Isaac here for the difficult moments, his absence during the happy moments is what hurts the most.
I got a card from a friend today, and some of the things that she wrote perfectly described just how I feel. She wrote, "I'm so sorry about the loss of your best source of love, comfort, partnership, support...I know you are strong and vibrant and smart and capable on your own, but I loved that you found him." I receive so much love and support from the people in my life but it still can't compare to Isaac. I'm so grateful for the outpouring of love because I'm not sure how I would be doing without the prayers and thoughts of others. He was the best source of all that, and although I know I'll make it through this, I never wanted to have to prove that I was strong enough to do this.
Today I spent some time writing in journals I have for the kids. I write mostly about what they say about Isaac but also what they are doing at the time. One of the hardest parts of Isaac's passing is that my kids don't get to have their father around. As a child of divorce, I was powerless to change my family dynamics. As an adult, I very intentionally chose my spouse. Isaac wasn't a perfect man but he was loyal and he was committed. That kind of love is rare. The kind of love that says, "I love you and I'm gonna choose to love you. And if I stop feeling love for you, I'm gonna find it again." That's the way Isaac loved. It wasn't that he always did the right thing. You just knew that whatever happened, he'd never quit. I wanted my kids to witness that example. I wanted them to go grow up in a home where a mom and dad still held hands and kissed. I wanted them to grow up in a home where they saw mom and dad fight, apologize, and forgive. I wanted Wyatt to experience the kind of love and bond Isaac experienced working alongside his dad. I wanted Rose to see the way her dad looked at her. I wanted to see Isaac teach Rose to dance the two-step. There are many people in this world that don't want kids or treat them poorly. Isaac dreamed of being a father. And it's not that it's unfair that he died, it's just sad. It's sad that he won't get to be here for all the things we are doing because I know he'd want to be here.
In many ways, one year later seems harder. It's more difficult because now I'm living life without Isaac. On the day I lost him, I imagined how life would change for me but I couldn't anticipate all the things I would feel or encounter. Often when people talk about healing, they make it seem simple as though God will just grant that I feel better. I have found that turning to God does not take away my pain. As I reflect on the scriptures, I wonder why I ever assumed that turning to God would shield me from pain. Christ's life was full of pain and the prophets' lives were filled with pain. Some things in this life might not be healed quickly, fully, or at all. I haven't learned how to make peace with pain but I want to. I don't think that time or remarriage will ever change the loss and ache that I feel when I think of losing Isaac from my life. I don't want to hurt all the time and I don't want to always feel so tired, but I also don't want to "get over" Isaac. I hope that this next year, I can better accept that grief will always be a part of my life. I hope that I can embrace the woman I'm becoming and accept that I can't create the family dynamic I'd hoped to give my children. I'm so grateful to all of you who grieve with me and pray for me. I wish there was more that I could do to show you my gratitude.