Love After Loss- What Grief Taught Me About Love
It’s my wedding anniversary today. Twenty-two years ago, I practically ran down the aisle to marry Lou. I was 23 years old and the world lay before us to conquer. For 9 ½ years I lived the gift of being his wife. We celebrated 9 wedding anniversaries together before he was killed in Iraq. This will be my 13th year without him on our anniversary.
There is one difference this year – On my left hand, I’m wearing another man’s ring, and will soon be his wife. I love this ring and I love this man, just as fiercely as I loved Lou then and will always hold on to that part of my heart.
On my left hand is my new ring. It symbolizes the new life I almost prevented myself from finding. It is simple, and unpretentious, and precise in its purpose.
On my right wrist, I wear a black memorial bracelet with Lou’s name, and the date of the tragedy that stole him from us.
It is a beautiful balance.
When I look at my left hand, I see all life still holds. I see the man who understands me and possesses the confidence, grace, tenacity, and humor that enable him to love all of me, and commit to spending his life alongside me. I am excited for our future, and I love each day with him.
When I look at my right hand I pause the whirlwind around me. I remember that the majority of what has me worried is, in the grand scheme, irrelevant. I remind myself of how none of that mattered one single bit after Lou died, and how I regret the time wasted being worried instead of living in that moment with him.
On my left hand is a reminder that life is a gift, and happiness is a choice. I could have given up dozens of times. I paid deeply for misplacing my trust and hiding from my pain instead of facing it. I could have let myself believe I don’t deserve this second chance, and walked away from the possibility. But I didn’t and here he is.
On my right hand is a reminder that there will one day be an extraordinarily cruel price to pay for this new love. Indeed, the decision to allow myself to feel it makes me once again vulnerable to the agony of it being taken from me. Or, he will feel that agony, and I don’t know which outcome I most dread. Sometimes, this knowledge grips me.
On my left hand is the evidence of my decision to accept this cost. This time, I am not going to squander one single moment away. This time, I recognize every opportunity to waste a moment, or to savor it, and choose to savor them all, regardless of what they may be. I also take responsibility for ensuring that, should he be the one to experience grief when I am gone, I will have done all I can to ensure he doesn’t regret the cost.
I loved once, with every fiber of my being. Then I lost that, and the power of that love was turned against me with a venom that nearly destroyed me. I felt betrayed, punished by love.
Now, I use that lesson as a reminder.
On my right hand is love, and loss, and insight.
On my left, is a new gift.
I wear both with respect and gratefulness. One compliments the Other.
This time I will not take it for granted.
This time, I am grateful every day.
One heart. Two Loves. It is possible.
Never give up.