The day has finally arrived: the one year anniversary of Carrie’s death. Together, me, the boys, and all who have been part of our life have experienced every anniversary during the last twelve months. There was mother’s day, the birthdays, wedding anniversary, the holidays, and many private anniversaries. Each met with warm, wonderful memories as well as moments of sorrow. In many ways this post is a continuation of yesterday’s post.
Today is a day I remember…. a life leaving and a marriage ending but, most of all, I remember what an honor it is to share life with someone as intimately as one does in a healthy marriage.
Today also marks a significant change. I can no longer say “A year ago Carrie and I…. .” There is the obvious notation of time passing but there is more. It is no longer “last year” it has become “remember when”. Last year now speaks of a time without her presence. Memories of last year now refer to times that do not include Carrie. This feels different.
Revisiting a Heart Released and The Myth of Devoted Grief
During the last year of Carrie’s life we had many discussions about our life, our experiences of the moment, and also of two futures, one with her in it and one without her. These are hard conversations; trust me, yet also very rewarding. In a CaringBridge Blog post in April of 2012 I wrote about “a heart released” and “the myth of devoted grief”. They are still the best descriptions that come to mind when I try to describe some portions of continuing to live life. Each of these concepts began in these conversations with Carrie as we discussed the possibility of a future without her physical presence.
Carrie—mom—wanted the boys to remember to live a full life even if she couldn’t be there. For them to find the joys this life has to offer.
Her chief concern about my future was to find happiness, pleasure, and fulfillment; to pursue dreams we shared even if I were alone. From this and other conversations she released my heart to the future.
Carrie possessed great wisdom, perhaps from living long enough to witness many whose grief seemed to consume life for years. She understood that her death would leave a whole in many lives but, at the same time, everyone has a life to live. Carrie desired that no one would stop living life because of her absence, especially those closest to her. From these conversations the pitfalls of devoted grief took seed.
Making New Memories:
Thoughts of those conversations lead to a strong desire to make a statement about life on this anniversary of her death. To make a statement that affirms life to all that know us and, most importantly, to myself and my children. A statement that demonstrates that the joys of life do not end even with the most significant loss in life occurs. A statement that joins the Christian Bible and asks “Oh death, where is your sting”.
The mantra became make a joyful memory as we honor Carrie’s memory. Although my desire was to include everyone, the older adult sons had their own lives and responsibilities so the youngest, the boy and I are adventuring alone.
So this week we are making new memories of life in a place we’ve never visited before while honoring a mother, a wife. Tonight we talked about mom as we sat together on the back deck of a hotel; barefoot, surrounded by sand, listening to the rustle the fronds of the palms trees in the breeze about 90 or so miles north of Cuba. We are experiencing an adventure together. We are acknowledging that our lives continue; that loss does not end our joy.
As much as experiencing the death of a parent while still in childhood is life changing, I pray that our adventure is an even greater affirmation of life. Likewise, I pray that our journey will be an encouragement to others who encounter the inevitable losses of this earthly existence.