Life Marches On

Author: Linda Ambard

Life marches on and I am not sure I like it so much.  My youngest graduated from the Air Force Academy recently. He was commissioned by his oldest brother and his youngest sister, also a graduate, came for the festivities.  In the midst of the celebration, there was one gaping hole.  The day that Phil had looked forward to came and went without his presence.  Never was his presence so noticed as graduation week because it should have been Phil commissioning Tim and it should have been Phil who sat among the other faculty members as he graduated.  

Air Force Academy

The newspaper sought to interview Tim on how he felt about graduating without his dad's presence.  Tim requested privacy not because the day didn't hurt and not because he doesn't want to talk about his dad, but because he wants to talk about his dad on his own terms.  Grief is like that.  No one person mourns the same and even among families the process is different.  I speak to make meaning and to remember the man who loved me well even as Tim clutches his memories to his heart.

There will always be days and life events where the loss is more profound.  I have learned not to push my agenda or my expectations on the people around me.  I have learned not to ask for permission to feel happy, to try new things, or even to make mistakes.  I often feel like an adolescent as I navigate learning who I am without my Phil.  I was married for 23 years.  I knew who I was with Phil.  I was comfortable in his shadow.  I truly never wanted for more, yet I see myself changing.

I have become comfortable talking to large crowds and in transparency.  I have developed new eating patterns and I have moved and made decisions without Phil.  Is it hard?  Heck, yes.  I am still not comfortable in my life and it certainly is not the life I envisioned at 51, but I see the woman that Phil probably always knew was there.  I don't want to have to do my life alone, yet I am learning to be content (if not lonely) walking forward.  I am learning to trust my instincts and I am learning that it is okay to have a life outside of the marriage I had.  

I often second guess myself and I do not think that there will ever be a family event where my heart doesn't leak for all that has been lost.  Like I give my son the gift of space in dealing with the loss of his father, I need to give myself the same gift of time, space, and forgiveness.  I may find it harder to grant myself the same reprieve, but I need to because who gets practice in grieving? I choose to take small steps and to try new things even as I navigate the roiling waters. This week it is about celebrating the success of my son and the father who loved him well…loved me well.  I celebrate our lives and I step forward one faltering step at a time.