The Gifts He Gave
Day by day, hour by hour. Today is a good day, which means I’m not fixated on the loss of my sweetheart every second. Yesterday was horrible. I was putting Dani down for a nap and as I knelt next to her crib, I felt like something huge was missing. I felt incomplete--partial. I was missing something crucial, and in its void was evil--sadness, despair, hopelessness. I was brought to my knees by this feeling. I was hanging onto the side of Dani’s crib, my chin propped up on the rail, and I couldn't breathe, I couldn't see straight. Tears were flowing, as every good feeling of strength and hope was sucked out of me at that moment.
I looked up in sorrow, panic and pain and saw my mom standing there, watching me. She stepped out of the room and I heard her break down into gut-wrenching sobs. I just clung to the crib for all I had and whimpered and moaned for my Bryce.
It didn't sound as if it were coming from my body; it sounded as if it were coming from a ghostly wind. Dani just looked at me from between the bars, and I wanted to absorb her into me--to keep her with me forever, free from pain, disease and sadness.
I sunk to the floor and sobbed for my Brycey, and mom picked me up and led me to my bed. She laid me down and laid down next to me, still sobbing for me and for Bryce. She rocked me to sleep. The emptiness was horrible. This pain was worse than any physical injury I have had.
I lost my composure midday, but my mom was right there and rocked me to sleep. Nobody is too old to be rocked to sleep! Mom also put up my Christmas decorations, which I had no intentions of doing this year. I’m so lucky to have my family surrounding me, physically and emotionally.
My friend Matt made this comment to me:
“I have recently wondered what is the good in all this for you. What lesson is so important that you have to endure pain that brings you to your knees. I don't say that doubting in faith but rather with the inability to comprehend what good shall come of all this. There are many small good things but the reality is that the small good things don't surpass the great loss of a spouse in such an early phase of life. The greatest marriage is when you are able to have pure selfless love. You did that. You were with Bryce every minute when others would have cracked. In the eternal perspective how can you have a better marriage than one where you set aside your personal pain and suffering so that you could comfort and do everything possible for Bryce?”
Matt, you are a wonderful friend.
Friends have noticed and commented that I have been impossible to get hold of lately, and some feel slighted. I haven’t tried to avoid anyone; I’m just not feeling too sociable lately. Your love and prayers have been priceless and haven’t gone unnoticed, so please accept my gratitude via this posting. If I haven’t returned your call, don’t be offended!! And please don’t base our friendship on the fact that I have spoken with ____ and not you. It's meaningless; just circumstance.
Tragedy, especially of such magnitude, has altered my perception of every aspect of life. Something that would have ruined my day a year ago is inconsequential to me now. Heavy traffic? Big deal. Flat tire? It happens. Get in a fight? So—grow up and make up. Did somebody say something to you that wasn’t loud enough for you to hear? You better not have yelled at them to speak up. Somebody made a mistake at work which cost you a few minutes? Then fix it—and I really hope you didn’t ruin the other person’s day out of the spirit of selfish retaliation! Yes, I realize this sounds Pollyanna-ish. I only hope I can hang onto this attitude, because life is much too short to be controlled by anger and stress. I’m becoming an idealist.
Bryce was this way, which was one of his best qualities. Bryce was laid back and didn’t let people ruin his day. Of course, he was human, so occasionally small things would take him over the edge—but that was not the norm. He often said, “life’s too short”, when he was witness to the behaviors mentioned above. When we met, I had been spending an obscene amount of time and energy on researching the religion in which I had grown up. I spent hours and days disproving its truth and goodness. It was good for my therapy—my self-prescribed therapy. When I first dated Bryce, I told him all about my church history and how I felt about it. I showed him the research I had done over the previous several years. I was so proud of myself and my devotion to my cause. Bryce didn’t disagree nor did he act impressed with the sheer volume of work I had completed. He simply asked me why I would spend so much time and energy disproving something good. The Church had a lot of good in it that I was ignoring, even mocking. I was trying to negate that good. He told me that I was exceptionally intelligent, and that I should be proving things that are wonderful and helpful and generally doing good things.
The Church—all churches, for that matter—is like a huge tree. The trunk of the tree is the actual doctrine—love one another, do unto others, acknowledge the hand of a higher power in your life, people are good, etc. The branches are where different religions branch out and the people of the religion make statements that may or may not be true. There is goodness to the branches, but they are not necessary for the tree to still be a tree. The leaves are the people. Just people. People say things, people do things, people offend each other, people create false doctrine. Without the leaves, the tree still stands and is still real and good. I, like most people who feel the same way about my Church, became so focused on the leaves that I became angry, disenchanted, and I wanted out. Bryce asked me, “If you were to live your life according to the trunk of the tree and ignore the branches and leaves, would you be a better person at the end of the day?” Yes. Absolutely. “All the things you’re angry about are the branches and leaves. Forget about that. Stay close to the trunk and don’t look up. You’ll find purpose, love, happiness, and your family will embrace you into their lives once again. How can this be wrong? Just try it and see if you’re happier in a week.” I did, and he was absolutely right. I went old-school and forgot about the “leaves” that had made me so angry for so long. I crept under the radar, under the branches, and sought a pure, beautiful life. I found happiness. I shook off the anger. It wasn’t worth my time. I was ready for Bryce—his simple, happy, smart, accepting, nonjudgmental soul. He was wonderful and beautiful and smart. He taught me how to coexist with the religion I had given up. He gave me so many gifts. He gave me our daughter and the best five years of my life. He gave me my family, whom I had shunned so recently. I am so blessed. Bryce, I love you so much. Please watch over our little family as we mourn the loss of husband and daddy.
Cheese samich, baby.