Mike bought everyone Christmas presents, which arrived a few days after he died. My present was a silver heart on a black leather cord. I’ve been wearing the necklace each day to remind me of my love for him. It has become a symbol of my mourning. I miss him.
The first day I didn’t wear it was New Year’s Day, a day full of new possibilities, and a day I felt my heart start to open. These are the challenges of the new year: learning when to grieve and when to let go, learning how to honor Mike’s life and what it meant to me, and learning how to resist the impulse to be overprotective and allow myself to be vulnerable to the people around me.
I feel raw and exposed. But grieving openly is better than shutting down.
When I was leaving West Virginia to fly back home, I asked Mom if she and Dad were going to be OK. She said yes, because what choice do we have? “We can’t help him now. We need to keep living. We won’t help him by falling apart, or by drifting apart.”
There is more to say about the journey of these past weeks, but for now I need my strength to venture back into the world, and to continue to live my life.
I have decided to put the necklace in a special box, and to take it out when I want to feel close to Mike. The necklace is too intense to wear every day, but a piece of Mike will always be in my heart. My biggest fear is that he died without knowing how much I loved him. A friend told me that I should talk to him now and tell him all of the things I wish I could say, all of the things I wish I would have said. I hope he can hear me.