Today is just like every other normal day.
I’ll go to a meeting, pick my daughter up from camp, eat lunch, the usual. But four years ago today was anything but a normal day, because on that day I woke up to witness the end of a young man’s life. I sat close to him as he struggled to breathe and I cried when he told me he loved me as he took his last breath.
Andrew was my husband, my daughter’s father, son to my in-laws, brother to my sister-in-law, uncle, cousin, nephew, brother-in-law, son-in-law, grandson, and friend. He meant the world to each one of us. On that day, our dreams of any future plans with him died in all of our hearts. So we each vowed in our own way to hold onto his character and his example to help shape our lives, to make us better as we continued on the path of life. We began creating our new normal without him, but there was an undeniable emptiness. We tried to find meaning and purpose in it to heal ourselves, but it was hard to hold onto. As time went by, we started to realize his death was real and we couldn’t escape it. We had no choice but to try to move forward with life, but life felt so strange and awkward without him.
We remember how smart and kind and funny and talented he really was. He was ahead of his time in how he thought about life and God. We love him deeper and appreciate him more than ever, which makes us miss him and long for him, despite knowing he’ll never come back. I drive by a soccer field and see him playing soccer with Ellie. I see a dad and daughter eating ice cream together and think about Andrew and Ellie having deep theological conversations where she would ask him, “If God made us, who made God?” These moments reminded me I’m not Andrew. I can’t give to her what he could have given, and he had a lot to give. Thinking about this makes me sad because it reminds me we aren’t whole and Ellie knows we’re different. She wants normal, but we’re not normal. What happened to us is not normal.
I so badly want to be an example to her of how to overcome challenges, and yet I’m figuring this out as she is. I no longer look to “overcome” life without Andrew, rather I work on accepting it’s become a part of me and it’s shaped the way I see the world. Sometimes this reality creates fear and sometimes this reality creates determination. It’s not all good, nor is it all bad. It’s and and both. I wish I could tie this all up in a perfect bow and makes sense of it, but that isn’t how real life works. Real life is living the good, the bad, and the in between, all while I learn to let go of the things I can’t control, accept the things I can’t change, and remind myself to appreciate each moment on this earth, knowing my time here is a gift. Love and Blessings.