One year ago my life changed in an instant. In one moment I had just hung up the phone, having spoken to my husband about mundane things like dinner and grocery lists, and I was wandering through the grocery store looking for nothing in particular…nothing more than coffee beans and lunch meat. I actually lingered there for a bit longer than necessary, in hopes of finding an extra moment of solitude in the vacant aisles of the supermarket, which as a mom of three little ones was so rare in my house. In the next moment, I was home, and upon walking through the door, immediately loading the dishwasher and simultaneously nibbling on the food that was left behind on the stovetop before realizing it was unusually quiet in the house. Where was Mark?
The minutes and hours that followed that fateful instant are both hazy and clear; jumbled but somehow sequential; catastrophic, yet intensely meaningful and fiercely influential. Those moments have shaped me. Every single terrifying, tragic, devastating, and heartbreaking second carved a hole in my soul. Yet somehow, within those mind-numbing instants of despair I also found little slivers of strength, fortitude, courage…and yes, even fragmented bits of joy, as I managed to smile, sharing and recalling among friends and family some of the best memories and greatest stories of my beloved Mark. You see the thing about those holes in your soul is that they let the light creep in, if you’ll allow it.
Every single second in that collection of moments over two days is inextricably a part of who I am now and of how the loss of Mark has changed me. Sometimes those moments play over and over again in my mind, perhaps as a reminder that yes, this really did happen. This is real.
Looking back on those days, I recollect this tremendous sense of time suspended. In my mind, the moments are blurred yet simultaneously significant. I will never forget the faces I saw in the hallways and waiting rooms of the hospital, those who were there to comfort and console or to say their own goodbyes. I will always remember the music that played in the background, a playlist that remarkably seemed to have been created for the express purpose of speaking to my soul throughout each tender moment. I will forevermore recall the feeling of lying on Mark’s chest in those final hours, feeling both his heartbeat and his breath, and gasping for air myself as it hit me that it was the machine breathing for him, at once gaining the deepest understanding of how truly precious each breath is.
While it has been one full year since that fateful instant, and we’ve survived a mountain of moments without Mark, those holes in my soul from the trauma, the devastation and the loss of him remain…but I still choose to let the light in. And I truly believe that when you focus on the beautiful parts of life and the magical moments of synchronicity, the universe will keep giving them to you.