A letter to Jake. Written 11 months post loss.
A few days ago, I went to visit you. It was freezing outside, a harsh breeze, one sick kiddo at home, and I had to see you. It was the day after Valentine’s Day, the cemetery had called. Your monument was done and had been installed on Valentine’s Day, my first without you in 16 years. For weeks now, I have felt disconnected. A hole in my heart but yet walls built around it, keeping me from accessing my feelings. Determined to see you, see the monument, and unleash what I feel is an inevitable tidal wave of emotion, I took Wade with me, blankets, and a fully charged iPad to entertain him because I couldn’t wait.
We came to see you. We cleaned up around your grave. Wade was worried what I would do with all the things we collected but I reassured him we would keep them but it was time to clean it up with the new stone in place. I gave him some time with you and then he gave me some time alone as well. We carried the things to the truck and he played with his iPad with the heat cranked up while I returned to you.
I stared at the monument, the huge stone I bought. The tidal wave stayed at bay and I questioned my sanity as I continue to be emotionless. One emotion did rear it’s head briefly and that was anger surrounded by a sense of disbelief in the fact that this is my life and the fact that yours has ended. I looked at your name etched in that granite stone, your birth date, and the date of your death. You were 34. Life was just beginning as we built our family. How could this be reality? It shouldn’t be this way. People our age should be shuttling kids to practice, taking vacations, arguing about finances and parenting. Not dead, widowed, hanging out at a cemetery in the cold to gain the only connection to a spouse one can get. When I imagined out life together, I pictured us old and gray. Not mid thirties, etched in stone.
My eyes moved from your name to mine. I was standing, living and breathing, looking at my own name and birth date etched in stone. I am 34 with 2 young boys, and looking at my name in front of me I know how fragile life really is. It can all be gone in a second. Anyone can be gone just like that. There is something sobering about looking at your own named etched in stone believing you haven’t lived half of your life yet, but coming to the harsh reality that you never really know. Seeing your name in stone is proof of that.
I hate that our names are etched in stone, but like many things that have occurred this last year, I am hoping that I can live and love the remainder of my life in a way that leaves no regrets on the day they add the final date under my name which is etched next to yours.