It’s so hard to believe it’s been 2 years since Tony departed this earth for heaven. Some days it feels like it was just 2 days ago that I was in his arms for the final time; other days it feels like it’s been an eternity. Most days I shake my head in wonder at just how I’ve made it this long. Only God.
I started this post earlier this week. Tears were streaming down my face as I reflected on this hard milestone. Good thing, I’ve got one of the best things that’s come out of these 2 years by my side – my very own tear-licker, Ralphy Edge. She just tilts her head to one side and loves me through those innocent puppy eyes. Melt my heart.
I’ve spent today mostly to myself, in quiet; I’ve thought a lot about Tony, even more about his legacy. His life continues to impact mine, for good, for very good. I would certainly not be the woman I am today without his influence; I am better for knowing him, even if that knowing was much shorter than what I had hoped and dreamed.
It’s amazing the things tragedy has taught me. Sure, I’d give it all back for Tony, if I could. I find myself wishing I had learned these things long before Tony’s passing, even before we were married.
Best I can do now is carry them forward into my future. Here’s a few at the top…
- I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously. I had to learn this quickly when grief clouded my short-term memory. There were many days when I could not remember one moment to the next; I often mis-placed things. I found it much better to laugh than to cry.
- I’ve learned to enjoy the little moments, the little things. I stopped by Godiva today (Tony’s favorite), paid way to much for a single piece of chocolate, yet I savored every bite, all 2 of them. And I’ve taken plenty of “jumping” pictures – just for the sheer fun of it.
- I’ve learned that the best way to face unbearable pain is to put on my big girl pants and confront it head on. Avoiding it just prolongs the inevitable. And for me, the anticipation is almost always worse than the actual.
- I’ve learned that presence is often the best gift to offer in times of sorrow. The most comforting times over these 2 years have been spent sitting next to the people who love and care for me the most, and we said nothing at all.
- I’ve learned that influence is gained through authenticity. People aren’t looking for perfect Melissa, they are looking for someone who is broken and real, who doesn’t have all the answers. Though, I’m still learning to quit making excuses for my shortfalls.
- I’ve learned to stop myself and ask “is this how I want to remember these days?” This is particularly helpful in the midst of a self-pity party. Tony asked me this very question about a month before he died. I was drowning him in a sea of complaints – sleeping on an air mattress, living out of one room in our newly purchased, fixer-upper, under-construction house, while we were without heat in 30 degree weather, and all our things were either in boxes scattered everywhere or covered in drywall dust. I’m not making that up. His question stuck with me.
- I have learned that wise counsel is not optional, it’s essential. I’m so grateful that Tony had a wealth of wise folks surrounding him, something he worked hard to establish long before we met. I now call them my “board of directors,” and I honestly don’t know how I would make complicated decisions without them.
- I’ve learned that in my distress, to let others help. I’ve learned to just be grateful, not to worry how or if I could repay them. Instead, I just look for opportunities pay it forward when I’m able.
- I’ve learned that Jesus really is enough. His love never fails, it never dies, it never leaves. Never. Sure, the unconditional love between a husband and a wife is like none other, it’s amazing. Yet it still falls short, it’s limited to this earth. Jesus, only Jesus, is forever.
- I’ve learned my God is the Defender of widows. It is not a coincidence that there are so many mentions of widows in the Bible. He cares for my every need; I’ve just got to continue to Trust Him to control my circumstances, my future, my outcome.
And…I’ve still got a lot more to learn.