“Scatter me over my Rocky Mountains,” he said. He told me this so many times in our years together, I had no question of what to do with the remains of Robb’s ashes.
This weekend, I chose to let them go.
I have felt torn, stuck in the place of not knowing how to honor him well and move forward at the same time. How to cherish the best of our life together and make room for the rest of my life. I felt stuck on the brink of the next chapter, unable to turn the page.
I had read recently that when a widow prepares her heart to move forward, whether she means to or not, her mind begins to remember the worst things about her husband. It’s a way of making it easier, like starting a fight before a goodbye.
If we’re on bad terms and I’m focusing on what frustrated me, then my heart won’t break in two.
Angry is easier than broken.
I’m not sure about the total merit of this widow theory, but I found it happening in my mind. I thought of the annoying, pestering things that used to get under my skin. I focused on my frustrations, on who I couldn’t be, on what we didn’t do well.
That’s how I knew I needed to let go – because I couldn’t continue in that pattern. It was time to open my hands. Let him go.
I drove up the mountain. I went alone. I listened to our favorite playlists. The first song I ever gave him, back in the days of the Mix Tape. I let the lyrics take me anywhere they wanted to go, anywhere I had been. And I cried, cried, cried.
When I reached the destination, I walked around the lake. I scattered ashes. I spread them close to the ground. I tossed them in the air like confetti. I listened to their rippling splash on the water. I collected them under my fingernails. I watched them gather on my shoes, my coat. I liked the bigger pieces more than the fine powder; there was more to hold.
I poured a pile onto the ground. I traced a heart in the thick dust.
I talked to him. I told him how I am, how the boys are. I told him what I needed him to know. I told him things I’ll never again say out loud, because one of the great beauties of marriage is the treasury of secrets between the husband and wife.
When I finished, I dusted my hands. I brushed off my jeans. I got in the car, and I blew a kiss to the lake.
“It was beautiful, babe. It was real, and it was great.” I started the car. I rolled down the windows, and I said one more goodbye. “I love you. And now I’ve got to live.”
I drove down the mountain with the windows down, the music loud, and a most vibrant, freeing, soaring collection of music. A whole new playlist.
There is a newness in me. There is fullness in my smile, a sparkle in my eyes. Every time my mom looked at me, she started to cry. She began to see a girl she once knew.
I believe I will forever, for all of my days, remember this weekend. After two years of winter, the sun is shining again.
I have laid down the heaviest burden of my life, and in doing so, I have found room in my heart and my mind. I can think again. I can breathe. And I do believe I will love, when the time and the person and the season is right.
I am ready for the next chapter.
* * *
If you feel like dancing
in the middle of the street,
breaking into song,
or singing out of key.
And if you fall in love,
go on and kiss that girl or boy.
And if you like your music loud,
make a little noise.
When you let it go, what they say is true:
When you let it go, it’ll come right back to you.
When you let it go, there is freedom when you do.
When you let it go, it’ll come right back to you.
~ Tyrone Wells, Freedom
Wow. Just, wow. A holy weekend.
Hi Tricia. My closest friend died in January at the age of 40. She left behind her husband and two daughters, who are now 7 & 3. I just wanted to tell you how much hope your posts give me for their future. They’re walking the hard road still, but I know there’s sunshine in their future, too. So thanks. :-)
This is truly beautiful! I cry tears for you…for the sorrow you have experienced and the joy you are finding. May God be with you in your journey as he has so far. Many blessings Tricia.
Beautiful! Simply beautiful!
Tricia, I love that you felt it was time to do this, that you did it in such a beautiful, special way, that you feel a newness and the return of the sun to your life and heart, that you are opening yourself to the future and what it may (does!) hold, that you have a new playlist, and that the change in you is so obvious as to make your mom cry. I know there will still be some difficult days ahead, but you have taken a giant step forward in the healing process and in your life. You have given yourself so much room for so many things. Simply wonderful!
I look forward to watching your next, new beginning. I have no doubt that it will be great. Smiling and celebrating with you. (i DID cry some tears in the reading, though!)
Tricia, I am so glad that you have been able to find your smile and to go about doing what you need to do to let go. I am still at the place where I wonder if I will ever be able to do that. Sometimes it doesn’t seem possible that I ever will; you are proof that there is hope that maybe someday it will happen for me. God bless you!
Good for you! :)
>I had read recently that when a widow prepares her heart to move forward, whether she means to or not, her mind begins to remember the worst things about her husband. It’s a way of making it easier, like starting a fight before a goodbye.<
Whoa, Tricia, you brought me up short with that observation. I had read that it takes one year of recovery for every five years of marriage. Rick and I were married 34 years when he died and I was less than ten years into grieving (by that calculation) when Jerry and I fell hard for each other. (In fact, as the card I just gave him for his birthday says, "I didn't fall–I jumped!")
The last thing of Rick's not affected by his brain cancer was his strong left hand, which I clung to. When Jerry reached both hands, cupped, across the table to me so we could say grace on our first date, I grasped them like a drowning woman, knowing I was committing myself to him forever. I was ravenous to be loved again, in every way. I thought (me, a spiritually mature, chaste Christian woman!), "I don't know a thing about him but hey, if it doesn't work out, I can get a divorce."
Jerry told me if I wasn't through grieving, he would grieve with me. We were engaged within two weeks, married within 3 months. I haven't grieved with him. When there is something Jerry does better than Rick, I tell him. I tell him the negative things, never the positive. There were multitudes of positive things but I haven't let myself remember them and now I know why.
I also know why there are days, despite life with Jerry still perfect after 8-1/2 years, when all I do is sit up in bed and weep.
After almost two years of hearing and reading you walk through winter… I am crying with so much happiness at the Joy shining down on you. I bet your sweet Mom is beaming! Thank you so very much for sharing this holy weekend with us! I can’t wait to read about the joys and paths our Lord takes you down in this next season!
My heart is breathing again. I love you.
Tricia. Only you knew when it was time. Well done, special lady.
Happy tears…. love you so much. It is amazing how a mother knows when her child is going to be okay, has turned a corner after grief. My son Gabe, lost a girlfriend in a freak accident and the lingering grief in his eyes, lasting about two years… broke my heart. He just had the most peaceful dream about her this past weekend, a kind and non-angsty “letting go,” and is in a new chapter, in love again with the girl he will marry. This is such a significant turning point. I feel your mother’s relief in my bones as well.
So beautiful. You’ve done this so right. Blessings on you sweet girl!