I know – it was a movie! But it best describes my journey this past week. My first husband, Don, passed away on July 26, 2015, in a motorcycle accident at which I was present. I endured the horrible shock and pain which accompanies the loss of someone you loved deeply for 49 years. As time has passed, I’ve had the normal experience of encountering unexpected things which throw you backward. One of those is funerals, particularly for a veteran. Don was a Vietnam Vet.
My life now is a wonderful and happy one. Yet, I miss my first husband all the time. It’s ok because I am now married to a wonderful man who also lost his wife a few years ago, and we each understand the other’s pain, talking about it freely. However, last week a friend passed away suddenly. His name was Tony Ritacco. He and his wife were part of a group called Combat Vets Motorcycle Association, which my first husband and I were part of and were there for me when Don passed. The group rode their motorcycles to my husband’s memorial service. It was a proud but horrible moment. No one wants to be a widow or widower.
Upon learning of Tony’s death, I immediately got in touch with his wife. I know what she is experiencing, yet I don’t. Grief is the same but different for everyone. I know in general; I know the deep and terrible pain; and, I know a lot about what is coming in the future for her. Yet, her walk through it will be different than mine. His death was totally unexpected, and, as I empathized with my friend, I found myself thrown back into that pain. It’s normal for that to happen as a part of grief and loss. So, you just have to figure your own best way of dealing with it and not getting stuck there.
I love to walk outside and, here in Idaho, we’ve had a few days of beautiful weather with sunshine and temperatures in the 40’s. So, I took some walks. Day-before-yesterday, it was a painful walk accompanied by tears, as I felt my way through all of it again. Yesterday was a walk back to the future – to today – leaving yesterday’s pain behind. The wonderful memories will always be with me, but I had to make a decision to leave the pain behind – again. It catches up with me sometimes and pulls me back. In those moments, it’s up to me to go back forward. Sounds funny, but I know that you know exactly what I mean.
So, yesterday, I also spent some time with two friends and shared what was happening – first step back. Then, during my 3.5 mile walk, I walked back to now and was so thankful for all that I have at this moment in time. Being thankful is an important weapon in my life. It defeats self-pity, the past, grief, and fear. It centers me back to what matters – now. So, here I am – back in the future – and grateful to be here!