Sorry I'm late with this post; we just got home from a much needed getaway. Angelique's half brother got married last night in Atlantic Beach, FL, and we were there to celebrate. After considering the cost of 4 plane tickets, we decided to ask grandma and grandpa if they would watch the kids and we would use this trip as our upcoming 10th anniversary weekend. The real date is November 8, but we couldn't take that romantic getaway we envisioned 3 weeks after a trip across country, so we decided to combine the two!
The wedding was in the sand at high tide just before sunset. It was magical. We flew out 2 days before the wedding for our own little couple time, which was really nice. However, Friday wasn't just any old day to travel on... It was, well, October 11th, the day Bella earned her butterfly wings 3 years ago. I remember being holed up in my hotel room last year outside of Chicago getting ready to teach a continuing ed course for music therapists, and how miserable I was.
All I can say is this year was decidedly different.
Cards from our friends at Children's Cancer Research Fund (PUCK's parent organization), and Ronald McDonald House... two organizations that are pure class...
First, Angelique and I were together. As a family, our relationship and partnership comes first, over all others, including our children. So, being together on Friday helped, but at the same time, neither of us we're dreading the day the same as the past two years. There has been a lot of healing going on over the past year, and we are both in that phase - after you feel bad for so long, and you start to feel good - then, you feel bad because you are starting to feel good again... If you've lost a loved one before, you may know what that's like. It's weird.
When working on the grief retreat year after year, one of things I counsel participants on is the fact that you don't forget your loved one, it's just that the pain and sting connected to the memories fades over time, and you are left with the memories, and sometimes they may make you happy, and sometimes sad, but that jab of pain doesn't have to last. In fact, it's normal and natural for that feeling to come, hang out, and then over time, recede.... If we're willing to face the feelings, acknowledge them, FEEL them, and then be willing to release them.
Well, we're moving through our grief, and this year, October 11 wasn't nearly as bad as last year, and for that I am grateful. It will always suck, don't get me wrong, the scar is permanent, but thank God it hurts less and less with each passing year.
The piece that is hardest to deal with is that, while all that sting is receding, I feel somehow farther and farther away from Bella. I miss her. I will always cherish the 13 months we had with her before she was intubated, but I wish I got to see her amazing personality develop more before losing her. Having her only words be "Noooo!" And "Owwww," really bites. Can't fake that one.
Meanwhile, life keeps flying. Ali has brownies tonight, Ang is working and traveling like crazy for a big project, and I'm hosting this year's TEDx youth event this Saturday, and officiating a wedding on Sunday! I hate the phrase, "Life goes on," but it does, and we can remain frozen in grief / frozen in time, or we can choose to move through time, remaining connected to those still with us, while honoring the memories of those who will be waiting for us when we earn our wings.
Every time I am on a plane, as it leaves the runway, I say a little prayer to God, relinquishing any illusion of control of my life while in the air. I close my eyes and see Bella, and see my dad, and know that if this be the day I return home, I will see them shortly. However, I'm not done down here, so if I might put in a request, it would be for me to return to land safely. There is more good work to be done. More books to publish, more talks to give, more songs to sing, and more people to hopefully touch in a positive way. Like at the end of the movie, "Gladiator," the freed slave says to his ancestors and loved ones, "I WILL see you again...
... But not yet. Not yet."