I suppose I needed the break, though at the time it didn’t feel like I needed one.  I suppose it was a break from writing, to refocus and figure out my next steps. To live my life and really appreciate things. To experience and gain more wisdom, to follow my heart and do things that I wanted to do.

I do think there’s something to be said about having goals. Of making them a reality and letting the work toward them get you into some sort of routine. And I’ve been feeling the need to revisit a deadline for this book.

When Ryan died, the worst thing that could happen became my reality. I went into shock immediately, floating as though it were a dream. But he didn’t come home. He didn’t suddenly appear out of the blue, unless it was in my dreams. He didn’t call. He died. Everything about his physical sense vanished. And I was left hollow, a mere fraction of the person I was before.

Suddenly very simple tasks become monumental. Listening to music for the first time, going places we used to go together for the first time – my life was forever altered. And that took a lot of getting used to.

Some how I knew early on in the grieving process that I would make the most of it. Doing so was in my nature. I couldn’t just wallow in my own self pity, letting sadness and sorrow rule my existence. No, I had the choice to look at it differently. I immediately adopted the “to know love is better than not at all” attitude and decided to take steps toward healing. Thankfully I had good friends to help me through. We spent week nights together, yet I would always return to the house and cry myself to sleep. It was nice to have diversions – to go out and eat well. But I would come home, reminded again of my loss and break down.

I knew getting regular exercise would get me through. And thankfully I had a training program to follow. And although it wasn’t the best and most focused work (in retrospect, how could it be?), I still went through the motions. I still showed up every day ready to get my heart pounding to feel alive, to feel normal, to escape the loss if only for a few hours.

Except I was still coming back home, home to the ghosts. Home to the reminders. Home to the empty house and ashes sitting on the mantel. Ryan’s absence encompassed me. No matter what I tried, it was always there. That dull ache of missing someone so badly you lose it. A song comes on the radio, a smell, a taste, a feeling and suddenly you’re a puddle of emotions and tears. Hoping no one will see you this weak, that broken. Because I knew, deep down I needed to feel this way. And as awful as it felt at the time, I needed to trudge through it. I needed to feel it, to get to the very bottom in order to heal. To form a base of sadness, of grief so that one day I could feel happiness and love again.

I would never wish this kind of sadness upon anyone. But I do wish upon everyone a wakening up. An enlightenment of sorts. A realization that despite life’s ups and downs, you can and will come out on the other side stronger and a better person. That you can choose to be this way and when you do, when you take happiness and empowerment into your own hands, the world opens up to you. You see things in a new light. You understand that doing what you want to do and striving toward that is so important.

Sure, I still get sad. There are nights when I cry myself to sleep. They are getting further and further between bouts, but they still happen. And I let them. I cry deeply, and sob to the point of where my sweet dogs check on me to make sure I’m okay. And once I’ve cried enough to water the lawn, I breath in deeply and know that Ryan’s there. He’ll always be there.

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