To the individual who has loved and lost:
Maybe it has been years or possibly only days. Today could be the anniversary of a special day, maybe the cardinal outside your window is a reminder of the one you miss, or the rainbow following the storm was a sign of hope. I want you to know that it is okay to remember. I want you to know that it is only a myth that time heals. It is okay to feel bad. You never replace what you have lost and the conflicting emotions you have today are normal. I want you to know it is okay to think of the person you have lost and to wonder about how different life is now, now that the person you loved is gone.
To the individual I loved and lost:
I want you to know that I think of you often. So many times I have wanted to pick up the phone and call you. I know it seems silly, I know you will not answer but I do wonder what you would say if we could talk. In my head I create scenarios. I come up with responses such as, “blah, blah, blah… you don’t know my life...” or “yes, anything you need Sweetie.” I make decisions based on the opinion of someone I can no longer ask. The choices I make are sometimes based on words or phrases I can only imagine in my head since you’re no longer here to say them out loud. We think of you all the time and wonder what corny joke would you have to share. What sarcastic comment would you make?
On the good days, I smile as I wonder what you’re doing now. I wonder if you’re dancing in the heavens, playing pranks, baking pies, gardening, farming the richest soil, riding the motorcycle on the most beautiful landscape imaginable, or if your toes are digging in the whitest sand overlooking the most beautiful sunset. I imagine you laughing, I imagine you at peace. I imagine those around you smiling because of the joy you bring. Then I pause, and I think, “Crap. Did you just see me do that? Are you really watching over me? Over us?” I wonder if you find humor in the silly things I do or the stumbles I may have. I wonder if you shake your head in disbelief at statements I make or jump up with excitement if I do something that makes you proud.
I sit and I wonder. It’s been quite the journey without you here. I know I am not the only one hurting. I know others miss you as well. I wonder if they think of you as often as I do or if they play out the scenarios in their head, replay your response, and look at photos and remember entire conversations. I hope you know you were loved; I pray you know how much you are missed.
I sometimes wonder if you’d forgive me for what I did or didn’t do that caused you hurt when you were still here. I hope that now you see and know how much I really cared, how influential you actually were in my life. I regret I did not always tell you. If I told you a million times before how much I loved you, I wish I could tell you a million more. I know nothing in life is guaranteed, your time was up and I have to accept that. I can accept that you are no longer here and I will move forward, but I will not let go.
I will move forward and forever have you influencing who I am, what I do, and the relationships that I develop. Who I am now is because of you. Grief is full of conflicting emotions and part of moving forward in my life is acknowledging what I lost when you left. You cannot be replaced. The role you had in my life has contributed to who I am, the experiences I have endured, the beliefs I have developed, and my perceptions regarding myself, others, the world, and my future.
Until I lost you. grief was a myth. It was something I had heard of but barely understood. I could sympathize with others but to empathize was hard. Every loss is personal; it is based on each individual relationship. To me you were a father, a brother, a grandparent. To someone else, you were a spouse, a son, a father. I cannot expect anyone else to get it, to understand the grief I have. Losing you was hard. Losing myself is not an option. I want to live, I want to experience, I want to move forward.
I now know that time does not heal, that feeling bad is okay, that I can fill the empty chair but you can never be replaced, and that some things cannot be fixed. Not all wounds are meant to heal. Some wounds are meant to be remembered, the scars are lessons learned, tragedy we overcame, and hope for the future. Those wounds, those scars help me move forward. It allows me to focus on what I have presently, what I can do, the relationships I’m building, and the memories I can create. I don’t want to forget you and who you were, the good, the bad, and everything in between. I want you to know that although I wonder about you, I think of you often, I am moving forward in my life, and I’m taking you with me.
Rachel Velishek is a licensed professional clinical counselor with Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, Fisher-Titus Medical Park 2, Suite C, 282 Benedict Ave., Norwalk. Her office can be reached at 419-668-0311. For more information on Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, visit fishertitus.org/behavioral-health.