Two and a half years ago today marks the darkest day I've ever known. The day where I was awoken by two dark silhouettes that I could see through the decorative glass panel of my front door in Clarksville, Tennessee. I could have been dreaming....given the fact that the sun had not risen that was my immediate assumption. But the silhouettes became much more real as I opened the door, confused and very much afraid for them to speak. Trembling, I had to get Kiley. She was crying from her crib.
Every single day since September 9th, 2010 has been a battle. A battle against grief, a battle against coping, a battle against fear, a battle against trust, a battle against rejection, a battle against me keeping my shit together quite frankly! Sorry. Sometimes the soundtrack in my mind of "I think I can I think I can I think I can" quiets down just enough to remind me that my shield of "strength" isn't always as it appears.
Quite often I'll hear people compliment me on this so called strength, my ability to inspire others, or my outlook on life after losing Todd. And immediately following such a compliment or kind word the reaction in my head is always "WHY?" I'm not doing anything. I'm not trying to be anybody special. I'm not trying to change the world or prove anything to anybody. I'm just sitting here going "I think I can I think I can I think I can". I'll tell you the mantra doesn't always work. I was reminded of that today.
I had looked forward to visiting Todd at Arlington National Cemetery more than usual this morning. I needed to see him....to talk to him....to be with him before we move away from the area.
I hadn't gotten to visit since before Christmas, a time in which I took to talk about my upcoming wedding. Kiley and I had set up his Christmas tree and I tried a little more to teach her about this sacred place. Finding what I hoped were the right words and examples for a three year old to understand. Teaching her about how to walk between the aisles and never across the headstones. Praying she doesn't pick Todd's neighbors flowers or move their mementos. Today would be harder....but I shocked myself once I got there and realized how much harder it really was.
We arrived during a sailor's service. It was being held within close proximity to Todd's headstone so we decided to keep our distance until after the family had laid their loved one to rest. Watching from afar was almost an out of body experience...it was overwhelming to say the least. I knew that the woman clutching the folding flag couldn't feel the stinging cold wind that everybody else was feeling. She couldn't see past the casket, she didn't even realize how many people were there to support her and to pay their respects to the young sailor. I knew her numbness all too well. This is when I couldn't keep it together anymore.
The fact that I could collapse into the arms of the man who never lets me fall...being held up by his love and unwavering support solidified a belief in my heart. That is my strength! The embrace of my husband and daughter as I stand sobbing over the grave of the man I thought I'd grow old with renews me. Teaches me what's important. Value this life, acknowledge the path that has brought you this far- it may not have been how you wanted to get there but trust me - the route isn't really your call.