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It’s so beautiful outside.

I’m at a corner table in my neighborhood library.

From the second floor I can see the lush green lawn and the edge of the giant oak tree. There are bursting-at-the-blossom purple flower baskets hanging from the lamp posts and people walking by in their summer’s best.

And I’m crying.

Not crying crying, but lump in my throat, misty-eyed, can-definitely-hold-this-together crying.

And I stare out the window and see my glorious neighborhood.

And I’m crying because I’m grateful.

I now have a home that is mine, and I love it.

And I’m crying because I’m a bit sad, too.

There is still so much unknown about my future.

I was looking at my father’s airplane ministry and found an article honoring BJ that I had never seen.
(Click here and scroll down until you see B’s handsome headshot.)

But reading about BJ and his talent and our life made me so grateful. Still sad, but so very grateful.

(Though it didn’t help the throat lump at all.)

A woman sits across from me. She’s here at the library with all her possessions on the cart next to her.

She’s reading the newspaper and drinking prune juice from a can.

I feel deeply connected to her.

I feel deeply connected to this new home of mine.

I walk its streets and I feel safe and happy and hopeful and free.

It’s hard to make friends and yet after one week of praying, I met a couple from my building and the owner of the local coffee shop and we have plans to spend time together. I made some friends.

(It felt like magic.)

I sense that someday I’ll see my life so clearly. I’ll see each bump, each rough edge, each rejection, each first date, each job application, each sinus headache, each library book, each desperate prayer, each long lost friendship, each song sung, each bruised knee, each great parking spot…

And see how it all added up to create the life I was born to live.

I don’t know.

But I hope so.

So here I am, in the middle of my story. Or the beginning.

(Or the end? Who knows? Everyone dies, after all.)

But whatever life has for me, I’m ready.

 
 
 
 

 
I love the word covfefe. I just think it is the most hilarious, most internet-y thing to have ever happened and I can just imagine BJ and I laughing our faces off together over it.

I imagine our conversation over it would center mostly around its pronunciation. I REALLY want it to be pronounced “coh-fef” because it just FEELS like a “coh-fef” to me but I’ve heard it pronounced “co-fef-fay” with the emphasis on the second syllable and also “co-fef-uh.” I take solace in the fact that its a made-up internet word so I can pronounce it coh-fef as much as I want. Although co-fef-uh is growing on me. But now that I think about it it could be a “co-fay-fay” or a “co-feef” so I’m gonna need to still think this through.

But anyways, it’s been heart breakingly hard for me lately. It’s like it’s embarrassing to admit that it gets harder, not easier in many ways. He’s really dead and I’m really alone and this is actually my life.

I’m rebuilding in the only ways I’ve known how. I know every day I’ve lived since BJ died is exactly the path I needed to take towards my future and my healing. But still. But still. But still I’m hurting so bad. And still the healing is not complete, nor will it ever completely. (Well maybe someday it will but there will always be a scar.)

I hit a bitter stage recently. Never had my grief been bitter but The Bitters hit me recently.

(OH THE JOY OF GRIEF! You learn NEW WAYS to be pissed at death almost two years later! Constantly evolving and adapting, that grief! CLEVER, grief. You little devil, grief!)

Anyways, I had a case of The Bitters. It hit when I heard someone talking about “the best year of my life” and I was all like, SHIT. I see so many people having the best years of their life and I have unequivocally been in the trenches of the absolute worst worst worst years of my life. These past two years have been devastating, life-altering, and not-my-choice.

So I felt The Bitters.

(Honestly, I’m surprised they held off this long. They were bound to turn up at some point.)

So I did what any person would do and I cried to my mom at the kitchen table about how sad I was. And she said “Andrea, you sound bitter.” And I said “YES! That’s it! Thats the word! I’m bitter! Yes.”

(It was the first time I had heard what I was feeling associated with the word bitter. I just thought I was sad or depressed or grief-y until then.)

I was relieved, as if I finally had a diagnosis. I was bitter. I had The Bitters.

I knew what I had, so now I could do something about it.

(By the way gratitude is always the answer. Always. So I’m working on that.)

But I also identified some other things to battle the bitters. I need to write more. I need to be transparent. I need to not be so hard on myself, I need to trust my path.

And since diagnosing myself, honestly I’ve been better. Although I did realize I really need more friends. I don’t really have close friends in Oregon. It’s hard to make friends as an adult its hard to make friends when you’re grieving. And I can be a bit introverted and self sufficient and have not had my own place so I haven’t been hosting things and it’s all a Big Combo for feeling like I have no close friends.

Oh and, don’t feel too devastated for me. And also I’m not really looking for advice. I’m doing ok. I’m sad but I’m smart. And I have some big things in the work and God and Me are working at our slow healing place together.

Also, I’m the kind of person that likes feeling all the feelings. (Read I am an Emotional Creature by Eve Ensler.) And I feel good with what me n’ God got up our sleeves. But I can still be sad that I’m living Option B life not my BJ NYC Wife Option A life. My Option B life isn’t tying up in it’s neat little “I’m all better” way I thought it would be by nearly two years out.

OH AND THAT— we’re in his death month now. It’s horrible to call it a death month but that’s what it is. The month where he dies. Shit. June 26 is coming so soon and I want to cry out in pain.

But yeah, it’s still hard, I’m still figuring things out. I still have things to tie up with his estate and it seems like everything costs so much money.

But I have a few things on the horizon. I have some hope but I also have heartbreak.

Life is hard and weird as usual.

Covfefe.
 
 
 
 

 
I’m sober now.

Clearheaded.

It only took 19 months.

But now I’m Andrea again, no longer a walking talking cloud of shock and grief and excess weight.

The immediate shock and stun of loss has worn off and now I feel more like me than I have since he died.

Except my sober self is more grieved than ever.

And I’m realizing sober grief is even harder than sudden grief.

Now that I think clearly, and the pain is less sharp–

The pain is actually deeper.

The pain is more painful.

Now I can fully see, fully realize, fully grasp everything I’ve lost.

All the losses.

My husband.
My lover.
My best friend.
My partner.
My future,
My entertainer.
My encourager.
My biggest fan.
My accompanist.
My handyman.
My champion.
My IT Guy.

And our home
our neighborhood
our city
our home
our apartment
our grocery store
our yoga studio
our farmers market
our pharmacist
our diner

the church we left behind
the friends we left behind
the life I left behind.

My entire life.

My whole life.

My whole existence.

I had it all. I had it all it all it all.

Everything.

And now I try to look at my current life–

Clearly.
Soberly.
Methodically.

And I see how I just have nothing.

No semblance of a life.

No church. No husband. No community or deep set of friends. No career or vocation. No sense of place. No home. No city of my own.

I feel very very out of place.

And very very much missing the rich beautiful life I had twenty short months ago.

Maybe I’m whining, or maybe only now am I able to feel the deepest grief I’ve ever known.

It’s as if the first 19 months was place-holder grief until the REAL grief settled down.

Year 2 is harder. Life is harder. Grief is harder now.

I’m so sad.

I’m more normal. I’m more myself. I’m more vibrant.

But now I’m more deeply sad, more deeply grieved. It’s like heavy armor that rests on you ceaselessly.

It’s all so much worse now, it seems. Because now I really get how much I had and really grasp how desperately I want it all back.

I used to believe everything happens for a reason.

Now I just desperately want my old life back.

(Which is impossible to get.)

I’m stuck making decisions about my future, when all I want is my past.

And so I’m stuck.

Angry life isn’t going my way, and yet paralyzed to change my life because the grief is still so heavy.

Stuck.

 
 

 

Sometimes I think to myself:

All I have is books and cats and stuff.

That’s it.

That’s all I have in this world.

Stuff. And cats.

No husband. No children. No home of my own.

No career or vision or guidance.

I have my family.

Yes, and I am so grateful for that.

But I think about what is just mine.

I feel downgraded.

Depleted.

And nonexistent.

I remember I have me, though.

I have myself.

And I’ve always remembered I have God.

 
___
 

I have myself.

I have my thoughts, my prayers, my dreams.

And I realize that is a lot of stuff to contain.

And with BJ dead it is all up to me to contain it.

No one sees me.

No one knows me.

And all that is inside me is a mystery.

All my deep thoughts and songs and poetry.

All my books to be written and dreams to be manifested.

All my secrets.

It’s just between me and God.

I have nothing but myself

And God.

(And books and cats and stuff.)

 
____
 

I feel overwhelmed by the depth inside of me.

I feel overwhelmed by the stories I want to share with you.

I want to tell you stories of God and Holy Spirit and Zimbabwe and my marriage and BJ’s death and the election and dating and what matters and orphan care and soul care and my favorite books and my future.

I have so much to tell you so I stay silent.

And keep the deep depths just between me and God.

 
___
 

Part of me just wants to fall in love and tell the New Person all the secret things.

(Part of me wonders if I’ve already told you too much.)

That’s how it was like with BJ.

I had him to tell all my secret things.

I didn’t fret when I didn’t blog or write or share my dreams and thoughts and ideas.

I just told him.

And he carried my depth and he held me and helped me and listened to me.

And now with him gone, I think:

To whom do I tell my deepest thoughts?

Is it even appropriate to tell the internet your deepest thoughts?

You people are wonderful but you don’t love me deeply and madly and intimately like BJ did.

Can I trust you?

I don’t know.

And I don’t have BJ to ask.

(He gave the best advice.)

I feel like I should store up my feelings until it’s safe or far away enough to share with you.

Or until I find a New Love to share my soul with.

So all I can do now is talk to God.

That’s all I got.

It’s me and God.

And yet I freak out when I tell God it doesn’t feel like enough.

I want a human love, too, God.

I love you,

But I want a husband love.

Soul love.

Holding-hands love.

A love I can kiss.

And cuddle.

And take care of.

And have babies with.

 
___
 

I’ve told you too much.

But I’ve already written it, so I’ll post it.

My thoughts don’t seem real unless I actually hit the “Publish” button.

And selfishly, I want a record of this journey.

So against my own advice,

Here I am sharing some secret thoughts with you,

Knowing that I’ve already shared them with God.
Wishing I could share them with BJ.
Hoping for someone to come along to share them in the future.

And deciding to go ahead and share it with you.

 
 
 
 

 
For me, the easy thing is Grad School.

It sounds weird to stay, but I know for me, for Andrea, the easy choice would be to go to grad school.

The harder choice is rest.

You see, I thrive in academia. I like expectations and I’m a quick reader and I’m a good essay writer and I’m an overall a rule-following, people-pleasing, high strung Classic Good Student.

So if you threw me into just about any grad school program in a topic I’m semi-interested I’m sure I’d do pretty well.

Now it’s not because I’m better or smarter than anyone else. It’s just the education system is rigged to benefit people like me.
(Rule-following, Type A Suck-ups.)

So for me, grad school would be a relatively achievable and successful path. And an easy thing to commit myself to.

And perhaps, most of all, grad school would be an easy answer to give inquiring people.

Can you just imagine it?

Oh dear, sad, widow. You must get on with your life. What are you doing when you return from Zimbabwe?

Oh I’m doing fancy important academic things! I’m making decisions! I’m going to Grad School!

It’s impressive. It’s logical. It’s fancy.

But it’s be much harder to say

Um… I don’t know.I really want to be married. I miss sex. I want to have babies. Oh and I’m still figuring out things. I want to get a job. Probably just part-time to start. I like having lots of time to myself. I want to do more hot yoga.We have this new puppy…

Now it isn’t fancy or special or important.

It even sounds lazy and indulgent and juvenile.

AND YET—

And yet I know it’s right for me.

And I kinda hate that we judge people who choose simple lives.

Can’t we all just walk our own paths and high five each other?

I just feel as though I’ll be questioned for needing more time.

More time.
More rest.
More chill.

I know God has a plan for me.

I know it I know it I know it.

It is good and it is big and it is radiant.

But I ALSO know that that plan includes rest.

Now the plan probably does involve grad school, but I will table that for later.

When I have some peace.

So until then,

Here I go,

Away from my Easy Thing.

And into that

Messy

Scary

Brave Thing.