For most of the last year, I felt so often like I was two people. I was not only carrying myself every day but I was carrying Aaron, too. It was more than carrying feelings of love and loss; I felt as though I was physically carrying his memory, like it was a separate, tangible thing. I took it with me all the time because I was afraid not to have it--I was afraid for Aaron to feel far from me. I didn't want his memory to fade or for me to come to a point where 2013 felt like a lifetime ago. What I did not realize was that this need to hold on to the memory of my amazing husband was weighing down both my heart and spirit.
During the "moving forward" stages after loss, there is a delicate balance between wanting to remember and forever loving the person lost but also recognizing that you have to loosen the ties that connect you to that person--spiritual and emotional ties. The balance is delicate because there is an inherent sense of guilt that comes with wanting to be happy after a loss. You think, if I'm happy with how my life is now, does that somehow make me less sad not to have the person here? How can I be thankful for what I have when I only have it because the person isn't here? It's an easy trap.
But the truth is, I am happy. I love my house. I adore my puppy. I love the relationships I have formed this past year. And these are things that would not be part of my life if Aaron was alive. Of course, if Aaron had lived, we would have many other happy things in our lives. But those things were not to be, and it is okay--no, it is more than okay--to be happy with those things that are.
In an effort to be happy, to look into 2015 with eyes of possibility, I had to let go of the separate, physical presence of Aaron's memory. How? I came to realize that I do not need to carry the weight of our life together because I AM our life together. Every part of me includes Aaron--I would not be who I am without him. So I can simply be. I can feel like myself: the self I am because of the life I have lived and the boy I loved. The self that will move through this year unweighted and free.