Saturday, February 7, 2015

A House for his Soul

There's a story I've been wanting to share here for a while now. It is one my grief counselor has encouraged me to tell, as he's felt it could be of help to others. So here goes. It's been roughly two and a half years since my fiancĂ© died, very suddenly, in a helicopter crash. I've gone through unimaginable pain. I've wanted to climb out of my own skin. I've wanted to rip apart every synapse in my brain for the constant knowingness that he is never coming back. I've been angrier than I've ever known possible. I haven't given up though… I have kept on fighting as every new wave of this journey washes over me.

Things are easier now. I'm not as angry as I used to be. I'm learning to sit with my pain better. I'm learning not to apologize for where I need to be at any given time with my life and my world. I'm making new friendships, I'm building a new and meaningful career following what I feel like I am meant to do. Most days now, my life is more filled with current-day thoughts and activities than it is of the past. He is still always there. There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thinking of him. Missing him. But as I have begun to return to life… our relationship is changing. He is still at the center, but Now, my new life is the center too. And that leaves the question which I have struggled with for probably the past six months or so: Just where do I put him now? In this new life?

It's a question I never really understood in the beginning… the idea that he would somehow NOT be the full center of my world anymore was just so hard to grasp. And also felt horrifying. And it has been something I have struggled with a lot this past year. As I made new friendships, new memories with those friends, new accomplishments in a new career, I struggled with where he fit into all of this. How to have both of these worlds living inside me at the same time.

And then one night, I was just arriving home from a night class. I live out in the country where you can see a sky full of stars… so I often stop as I am walking in the house just to gaze up for a while and take it all in. As I admired the dark, I noticed the neighboring house in a way I never had before. Set quite a few miles off from our ranch, this house sits up on the horizon, and at night the entire thing is lit up with a warm glow. Every single night.

Now I've seen this house and it's warm light in the night for years… it is always there, off in the distance. And I always look out at it when I come home in the evenings. But on this particular night, something or someone whispered a thought to me as I looked up at it. A thought of my fiancĂ©. And an intuitive feeling that I think maybe came right from him. "Maybe it is like he is just over there now?"

It was a small idea that I took and ran with… and began creating a story around in my head. And the story is that, perhaps - in a way - he is just next door now, instead of right beside me. Perhaps on warm summer nights, he's sitting out on his back porch with a cold beer wondering fondly what I am up to... while I am soaking in the hot tub out back doing the same. There is a peacefulness to it. And almost a relief… for I feel like this narrative has helped me with a question I have struggled with greatly this past year… knowing just where to put him in my life as things begin to move forward. Not wanting to leave him behind, but not wanting my world to be entirely about him anymore because it simply cannot be if I am to create a happy life again.

We still love each other deeply. We still miss each other. But we know we each have a new and different life to live - him in the afterlife, and me here in mine.

The idea makes me feel comfortable with going out into the world and living my new life that he is not physically part of. It is a tangible reminder for me that when I return home, he is always just there… in the warm glow of the house on the horizon.


  1. Something similar is working for me. My partner loved the water, and I asked one of his friends to paddle out with his ashes and spread them in the ocean in the bay where I walk most days. In the beginning, walking along the beach would bring on the tears and anguish, but now I imagine him paddling out there as I walk along.

  2. Leslie in Little RockFebruary 8, 2015 at 7:54 PM

    My husband suddenly passed away from an undiagnosed Pulmonary Embolism about two and half years ago. These past years have been so hard for me and I've been doing all I can do for our two daughters, who were just teenagers when he died at age 52. Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Arkansas and I just got the thought that he was riding around in his 2010 black Jeep Wrangler with the top down. He loved that car and it was a gift for his 50th birthday. I smiled when I thought of that and then this morning I read your blog entry. So I will think of him riding in his Jeep as we have his birthday in February, our youngest daughter turns 18 in March, and both daughters graduate in May - the oldest from college and the youngest in high school. Seven days after the third anniversary of his death, I will celebrate 14 years of being cancer free.

  3. I struggle with the very same thing. I am amazed at how well you put those words together. "Not wanting to leave him behind, but not wanting my world to be entirely about him anymore because it simply cannot be if I am to create a happy life again." Woww! Thats exactly how I feel. I do not want to leave him behind but today, after reading this, I felt and realized that my husband and I can walk the same mile in different realms.
    Oh Sarah, your counsellor and you were spot on about sharing this. Thank you. Wow! Just wow! You let some light in.
    I remember the first conversation that let some light in. I was sitting with a friend a year and four months ago and we had this conversation about love and death. I told him that I want to believe that when my time in this life is up, I want to be reunited with the people I have lost and talk to them about all the adventures that we have had, them in their afterlives and me with more mortal ones. That conversation helped me move. I went on to meet new people, made some friends, did a little traveling in that hope of collecting stories to tell. I live my life today, laugh today and try only because I don't want to be that boring person at the table.
    Today Sarah, you made my world so much more bearable and for that I am truly grateful.
    Happy Adventures dear girl!!