The story of my life after you died; A letter to my husband

There just aren't quite words to describe the depths of my pain at your passing, I feel it was just too soon, but what do I know? Perhaps I knew it all along, perhaps we agreed to this before we were born into this lifetime. Why? I don't know, you did so much good in your 32 years, and perhaps through your passing, I will do so much good with the rest of my life. I'll never forget the voice of officer Machado on the night he told me you died, “I'm sorry, I don't like to do this sort of thing over the phone...” I just knew. I dropped to the floor. He said many other things, but I was in an altered state of reality, nothing made any sense. All time ceased to exist, you were no longer apart of the reality I knew and I couldn't even begin to comprehend a world without you. I just remember laying on the floor, confused, shocked, listening but not really hearing, and the screaming and crying of my mom, the crying of my dad, and then our two year old daughter Ava woke up... I immediately went to her, laid with her, hugged her close, what just happened, how did that just happen? Take it back! Take it back! Let this be a horrible nightmare, but alas it was not, and in the ensuing days, it was like the nightmare just wouldn't end.

Driving to your mom's house in the morning to pick her up so we could go to see you, the prayer group that came over to pray for us, to share their condolences, all of the pictures of you in your mom's house, in the room we shared together for the last eight months of our lives, your clothes still smelling like you, and then we started the 14 hour drive to Yreka to see you, your body, what was left of your earthly existence. The the long drive listening to the haunting songs you posted to your facebook, studying the bible verses you posted in the weeks prior, reading and re-reading our last texts, trying to determine exactly when it was that you passed based on your last messages to me, speculating how it was that you had passed, was it appendicitis? Overcome with guilt for not going with you on that trip, I changed my mind at the last minute... Yes, that long car ride, everyone grieving, Ava wondering about all of the sadness, our dog, Chi Chi knowing something was wrong. And then arriving at the funeral home, trying to prepare to see you, but we couldn't because they had just finished the autopsy to determine how you died, and the man said it was kind of messy and to come back in the morning when you'd be all ready for us to see... That's when we made the arrangements for your cremation for the following week, they said they didn't do that sort of thing on the weekends.

Eating breakfast in the hotel cafeteria in the morning, throwing up all that I ate in the anxious anticipation of seeing you, your body, with you no longer in it... Walking into the funeral home, walking into the room where you laid, there you were, just laying there, like you were sleeping, yet I couldn't wake you. At first I hesitantly touched you, you felt so hard, so cold, you had a look of peace on your face tinged with sadness, with heartbreak that only I could see. I touched your face, touched your lips, traced your features with my finger, wanted your face to imprint into my memory forever, breathed in your smell like my own life depended on it, and I cried, how could this be? We came back to see you once more after that, we played your music, talked to you, I tried shaking you to wake you up, even though I knew you would not come to, you just looked so painfully normal, laying there, as you always did each night. As if in a dream, a horrible, horrible dream that I couldn't wake from, that I couldn't wake you from. I was forced to just sit with the reality of the life I would have to face without you.

We drove to see the horses after that last visit with you, the horses we'd visited with you on our last visit to northern california. These horses were loving on me, all over me, I felt they were you, I smiled from my heart for the first time in days. I explained to our two year old daughter when she asked for you that you were an angel now... We went to our cabin, the place where you lit that last fire to keep you warm that night, and there it was, that little wood burning heater/bbq just sitting there, right by where you laid your head that night for the last time, your poor body poisoned with carbon monoxide while you slept peacefully. Your tooth brush, your shoes, your machete, your hat, everything was just the same as you'd left it. I cleaned that day, it was painfully cold, Ava cried wondering where you were... we had never come without you. And there was our car parked underneath the oak tree, right where you left it, the oak tree that we were going to hang a swing from for Ava. Yes, everything just as I remembered, just so much colder, so much more painful, my heart now missing, you were missing, I was broken into a thousand pieces.

I went into the police station to retrieve your more valuable belongings, the keys to our car, your i-phone, your camera, and there it was, all that was left of you that I could still hold onto, all that was “valuable,” in my two hands. And in the ensuing days we waited, waited for your body to be burned to ashes, so that we could take you back home with us. The heavy urn, metal contained filled with what was left of you. We drove home with heavy hearts. In the days that followed once we got back to my parents were a blur. Crying on the floor in my room, a room that we had once shared, asking you to show me your presence if you were still with me, tingles and warmth on the left side of my body, that was your confirmation to me, you were here. Just as you told my brother on the night we found out, you told him while he was praying that you were ok, and that you would never leave my side. I began going to intensive meditation sessions so I could learn how to more fully connect with you, that was all I had. I prepared for my daughter and I's move to costa rica, the place we had planned to return to, and the place I decided to birth our second daughter due seven months later. I settled your debts, I finished my Master's program. And miracles, miraculous happenings to prove your presence to me amidst my confusion and doubts, like the playlist on your i-phone that appeared soon after you passed named horses...

And now, the question of forgiveness... I haven't had it in my heart to be mad at you, just horribly saddened, angry at what I believe to be fate, that you were simply a part of, that I was simply a part of. I look forward, I look all around me for signs of you, I depend on friends and family hearing songs that remind them of you, or seeing visions of you, or receiving messages from you in dreams, and then passing these along to me, because sometimes it's not so easy to feel you, to connect with you, but now I am learning to see you, or perhaps some of my grief is lessening a bit so you can more easily come through to me, I thank God for all of the ways that I can see you, feel you, hear you, touch you... Yes, I have since given birth to our darling Amelie, who I'm sure you visit... And take care of our nearly three year old daughter, who I pray to God that you visit in dreams, and I pray for the wisdom to help my children through understanding your transition into a purely spiritual being and out of a physical daddy body, and I pray for the strength of heart to fulfill my dream of being here in Costa Rica now with our girls, yes, prayer, meditation, good friends and family, signs of your presence, and purpose have gotten me through this madness of losing you as I had always known you. I forgive you my love, I know we would be together if we could and I thank you for being here with me now in the ways that you can. I send you only love, and I know I will get through this, I am getting through this, and I will help people because of it. I will honor you by lovingly and patiently raising our children as close to the kind of life we would have given them together, beach, freedom, culture, travel, creativity, and lots and lots of love. Yes, I will love you forever, I almost said until the day I die, but I know our love extends way beyond those measures of time and space, yes, I will love you as I have always loved you.