It took a long time for me to know I was okay. Really okay, not only in moments lifting up, but in days going by and ahead. Okay meant something simple but deeply telling. The warmth felt as dawn swallowed the horizon cold and bare. A new day slipping quietly into familiar calm rather than void. Broken pieces magnificently laid into place. Seams torn by tragedy joined fittingly together. And all I did most of the time was watch in happy, joyful disbelief. How can one experience happiness ...no ...joy true and pure in days overshadowed by death and loss of one loved?
I remember being lonelier than ever before. All the same faces, but mine darkened. I withdrew and stepped inward to make my life smaller. Most days, I simply did not have the words to hang my heart on. Some days, I had no idea what was going on inside. I woke to each day in the same place, going much of the same way except much different.
These words I recently rediscovered turning through pages of my journal in months still young and a heart still reeling.
And so for me, being alone is really about independence rather than reliance. If I am honest, being alone and independent is really about not being disappointed. Lonely overprotects my heart from losing again. It is a barrier that I preserve to keep people at a loving distance, close enough to be in my life, but not too close at the sake of being disappointed.
Nearly two years later after my wife’s death, I am different, my daughters are different. Our lives are different. I will always stand astonished in ways beyond the grasp of easy understanding how truly and deeply good the difference is.
Gratefulness births and nurtures joy abundantly in my life.
The sign signaling health and stability and strength anew and different, my heart opening again. Some days it burst open in tumultuous emotion no longer containable for another second. Other days I opened my heart purposefully, intent on letting those close see inside. Whether it was my doing or not, in the mess and rupture of life, every time my heart opened again healing waters rushed in.
No man is an island of itself. The brightest lights have been those lovingly charitable hearts who counted themselves responsible to the deepest depth of my sinking in clearing their shoulder for me to lean into their lives. I needed them, to share my weakness and hold to their strength. Merging islands holding and reaching in the tide pulling. The greatest weakness is not the horror of tragedy or loss or death and the abiding loneliness, but independence valued greater and sought after more at the cost of relationship and life lived together with those whom your life both intersects and interacts with.
Simply put: you need those around you far more than you often give room to believe. And they need you.
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. -John Donn
Love bears all things, believe all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1Corinthians 13:7