Wednesday, February 15, 2017

My Dearest Warren

Mi Querido Warren,

Five years ago today was the last time I saw you alive, heard your voice, felt your skin near mine. In the days following I clung to your pillow, inhaling your scent. It was weeks before I washed that pillow. I left your toothbrush, deodorant and hair gel untouched as though you might be back and use them. I cried the day I got a new phone and could not save the last voicemail you left, even though I could not bear to hear your voice and still can't. Knowing it was there was comfort enough. I don't recall when I stopped reaching for my phone after work to tell you I was on my way home and ask if you would be home soon.

As with every anniversary, the days leading up to it are painful. Even after going through this four other times, it still feels unreal that I am commemorating your death. Sometimes it feels like the world conspires to make the pain worse. Just last week I was driving to work, looked up and saw the hearse that carried you away. It took me back to when I walked outside the church after the funeral service and watched as the pallbearers loaded you into the back of the car and the driver strapped in the casket. I wanted to jump in there and cling to that box and go with you. It felt terrible to see the car drive away until I could no longer see it and have to walk back into the church basement and carry that emptiness with me. It felt so definite to see the box I chose for you go in a car that was so foreign to me. I was surrounded by hundreds of people but felt like there was no one in the world because you were no longer in it with me.

In the weeks after the service, I don't know how I went from day to day. I have foggy memories of things and people and conversations but I long stopped trying to put them in order or figure out what really happened and what my mind fabricated. In the end, it doesn't matter. What I think about the most was the multitude of feelings that washed over me, changing sometimes by the minute. This roller coaster continues, although there's a more predictable pattern now. I have learned to navigate the grief and stop fighting it.

The injustice of losing you will never go away. I will never believe the people who say that everything happens for a reason and challenge them to explain how a heart as full and pure as yours could stop beating from one second to the next with no warning. Be sure that I know you would have fought had you known your life was at stake. In all the anger I have felt since your death, it has never been directed at you. You did not leave me. You were taken. Some would say that you were called but what happened feels much more wrenching. You lived for our love and the love of our family. That is not something you would have given up without a fight. I feel one hundred percent secure in that. In the end, reasons and causes of death don't heal anything. I didn't feel any more consoled after I read your cause of death than I did before. The loss remained and nothing could change that. It did not bring me any peace.

Over these five years, peace has come from the people in my life. There are some who have had nothing to do with me since your passing, and others who showed up for a bit, then faded into their own lives. But others have been a steady source of love and support. Acquaintances have grown into friends and friends into family. Our families have been my rock, my foundation when I shattered and rebuilt time and time again as life without you presented setbacks, barriers, disappointments and painful moments where I needed you. I could not ask for better people to have our backs, and guide us. They continue to do that for me and our daughter, undeterred even after 1,825 days.

Every anniversary has had its prominent feeling. Last year I felt anger. It started to rise weeks before in anticipation of the date. By the time Feb. 15th came around I was exhausted from carrying it. This year I waited for anger but it wasn't there. I feel slighted and at a loss. The urge to talk to you and be in your presence is dominant. So much has occurred in the last five years and I wish more than anything that I could have one more conversation with you and tell you my fears, celebrate accomplishments, ask your advice on so many things, and hear you encourage me in that way you did that made me feel like nothing was impossible. I want to know your feelings on my life and how your daughter is turning out. She's growing up fast and the challenges in that are numerous. They were supposed to be tackled as a team but here I am fuddling through, feeling like a failure all the time, wishing you could share in this most difficult of tasks. Feeling selfish at the moments that you would love but aren't here to experience with me.

I am not one of those who believes the deceased walk among us. I believe you deserve your bliss and that does not include witnessing my pain. You worked too hard at life to make me happy to be plagued with doing so in death as well. It is up to me to be happy with what you left, even as it shreds me to think of how much more you had left to share with the world. At a time when we need more love, kindness, and goodness - all the values you stood for and lived by, it is unjust that you are gone. My solace comes from the legacy of giving and living you left that I try to honor every day. It's tough and at times feels impossible, but I can't stop trying. You would never stop trying and that means a lot to me. It keeps me in a place of moving forward.

If I got one more chance to talk to you, to hear you again, I would want to thank you and assure you that even while I hurt, cry and miss you, I am stronger now than I ever was. Memories of our time together and the people we grew into as a couple sustain me. I would not be where I am without all we went through, all I learned as your partner, best friend, and wife. While I wish I could have had decades and decades of those titles with you, what we had taught me lasting lessons that will never fade, no matter how many of these painful anniversaries I survive.

Te amo Mi Amor. Hoy y siempre.

- Christina

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