June 10th. I remember Brian and I smiling ear to ear after we picked the date for our wedding. You know, the giddiness of the newly engaged and all. Just thinking about that makes me smile. As I enjoyed this memory, it got me thinking about the long and winding trajectory that lets me sit here, by my open kitchen window, right around the time Brian and I were married and actually smiling. You see, after someone you love dies, a funny thing happens. For me, I can’t pinpoint when the healing started, but I can see the results of it as I sit here, wrapped in my happy memories of my wedding day.
Year one was what I call the “Ugly Year.” Lots of crying, some yelling, a few objects being thrown…well, you get the idea. Suicide leaves behind an anger that I hope I never have to experience again. Then, year two turned into something I call the “Lonely Year.” There were lots and lots of tears, lots of listening to Norah Jones as I drove to Panera for soup just to get some time alone in the car to cry and cry (and still yell a bit too, if I am being honest!). There was the time I hit my head on an end table and had to drive myself to the ER as I held a towel to my bleeding head, screaming at Brian the whole time about why he ever thought it was OK to leave me behind with our two beautiful daughters, who were suffering as much, or even more, than I was. I always said it was like we were underwater in the first few years, but only one of us was able to get to land at a time. We honestly couldn’t help each other very much, as we were lost in the sea of suicide survivor grief. We were helpless in the depths of a hurricane.
But, then something happened. Each year that has passed has brought more peace and healing to our lives. The violent dreams have turned to dreams of Brian how he used to be, not how I found him or how he was when he had cancer. He laughs in the dreams now, and I laugh along with him. He looks healthy and strong and it is a gift to finally remember him that way.
Now, on my anniversary or his birthday or March 10th, the day he died, I remember him with happiness. I don’t need to stay in bed all day the way I did the first couple of years. Oh, sure, we still get sad, but to be honest, I welcome the sadness; it is a testament to what I have lost. But, in getting lost for all those years during the healing, I have also found myself again, and for that I am thankful. I have healed, and I hope that wherever Brian is, he is healed too.
Happy anniversary, Brian. I’ll see you in my dreams…