Moving Along

Dear J,

We haven't talked in a long time. I haven't written to you in months. I'm sorry about that. Life has been a whirlwind, and I think part of me has been really trying to let you go. But the more I try to force it the more I realize that you just can't force these things, and I don't want to. It's okay for you to always be a part of my life, and Annabelle's life. You should be. We are who we are because of you and I like who I am. Even your death has shaped me in ways I couldn't have anticipated. I am strong and independent because I loved and lost you. Annabelle is mature and compassionate. She and I are warriors and every day I feel strong.
          There are a lot of changes happening all at once. I fell in love, fast, intensely, and unexpectedly.  I married him and gave your daughters a daddy. And while Annabelle still loves her daddy in the stars I think you would agree that they deserve to have one here on Earth, to take them swimming, soothe them in the dark, and be there to hug them for all of their accomplishments. He shows them such love. He makes me a better parent. I know you would be thankful that we have him and that he loves his girls more than anything else on this Earth.
          And we bought a house, J. We move a week from today. And holy hell my head is a mess of emotion. I'm so excited for more space, a fresh start for my husband and I to build our life together. More space for our girls to grow. But fuck, I'm sad too. What a life we had in this house. So much love, laughter, fear, heartbreak, and frustration. Life beginning and a life ending. The complete rebuilding of myself, my identity, my abilities, my heart. Annabelle came home from the hospital to this house. Joy was born in my bedroom. Your ashes sat on my dresser for two years until I packed them in a box. I cried my eyes out here; wept like the world was ending. And my heart exploded with happiness a million times when the kids were silly, or learned something new, or when, these past few months, Ryan and I would lay on the couch and he'd tell me how much he loves me.
          It's hard to walk away from everything this house has been to me--an accomplishment, a shelter, a project, a sanctuary; even though I know we'll carry all of those experiences with us, and that our new house will be filled with love and new accomplishments, and new hopes and aspirations.  But Ryan was the one who saw it in me, what I was afraid to admit-- he sees my heart and understands it sometimes before I do--I think part of me feels like I'm leaving you behind, despite my rational mind telling me that's impossible. You're not here. You're not in the box of ashes or in the garden where we lay a portion of them. You're not in the basement where you played guitar, or in the kitchen where you practiced your newfound passion for cooking. You're not here. But you are here. Somehow you're here, and we are leaving.
          I decided that if I can't kick this contradiction I should make my peace with it. And so I have a few things to tell you: I won't miss these closets. Fuck, do they suck. I won't miss the crowded entryway or busted up concrete in the backyard. I will dearly miss that beautiful gas stove we picked out together. I'll miss the views of our trees from from the living room window, and how they played out the seasons for me every evening after I put the kids to bed. I'll miss sitting in the backyard, looking out at the sky as it rolls down the back hill, remembering that long labour with Annabelle, when we ate dinner out back and I had to pause periodically at the contractions.
          This house was my friend, in the end. Yet as Ryan says, we are leaving on good terms- with play dough tracked into the rug and crayon on the floor. With tiny tack holes from pinned up birthday balloons, and tape residue on the ceiling, where he stuck up "Will you marry me?" in glow-in-the-dark stars. It's done its part for us, and now it can do its part for others.
           But J, please don't hang around too long here without us. The thought of that makes me sad. If we're leaving I want you to leave too. Find some adventure out there in the universe. But maybe visit from time to time, in a bright star on a warm night.
          Thanks for all of it.

          Me.

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