June 5, 2022 I will have an anniversary. It's not the kind of anniversary that is celebratory. But, it is an anniversary that I will always remember. It's a day that I will always pause and reflect. June 5, 2022 is the 10 year anniversary of the death of my husband, Frank.
Ten years is a long time...a decade...522 weeks...3653 days. A lot has happened in those 10 years. I have grown, changed, and evolved as a person. I have raised my children, and I am now an empty nester. I left my job where I spent 15 years working in higher education, and I started a new job in the wellness world.
I have moved and moved again. I now don't even live in the same State that I once knew to be my home for years. I have lost friends and made new ones. I am remarried to a wonderful man, and I am living my best life because I know that this is it...ONE shot in this lifetime. There is no dress rehearsal.
And, at the same time, 10 years later there are things that are the same. I have the same body, although a little older with a few more lines and wrinkles. I have the same heart, it's a little lighter with a transformed spirit. I also have my mind that holds beautiful, fond memories of a man I loved dearly and once shared a life with. I have memories of the good times, the fun times, loving times, and the challenging times...for that I am forever grateful. It took me years to make peace with all of it. Years to understand that I will never understand the "why." Years to surrender and trust...trust that whatever has happened is for the greatest and highest good.
Ten years ago, I didn't know where my life was going after Frank passed away. I was deeply sad...heart ripped out of your chest sad. I felt gypped. I was confused. I felt robbed of opportunities and dreams.
I was mad...mad at the world...mad at God, the situation, and the fact that I couldn't do anything to control or change it. It wasn't supposed to play out the way it did. It was supposed to be "happily ever after." Isn't that what the fairytales say?
I reflected on some of the many conversations that Frank and I had prior to his death. He was a true warrior, an eternal optimist and a lover of life. I wasn't going to let him down. I didn't want to waste away my life in bitterness and sadness. I was alive...I had a purpose, and he would want me to grab life and live it to the fullest.
There was a mantra that Frank lived by..."Don't look back, don't look ahead. Appreciate who you are right now." I could start there. At the time, it was pretty difficult to appreciate who I was, or anything in my life...except my children. They were hurting too. So I started there. My children were the ones that kept me going. They became the reason why I woke up and got out of bed every day. They were my beacon of light, my anchor. I don't know if they knew it, but that is who I showed up for Every. Damn. Day. Until I could do more than that and show up for myself. Honestly, I was never taught to do that just because I was worthy...because I mattered, and made a difference. That is a concept that has taken me many years to learn and embrace.
At the time, my next step seemed inconsequential, but it actually was the beginning of the pivot in my life. (I can only say that now in hindsight). I took this step for myself because I was told by a professional that, "if I didn't do something...if I didn't find an outlet for myself...I would end up sick and in the hospital." I heard that loud and clear, so I took her advice, and I took my very first steps into a yoga studio. I thought it was a just way to move my body...a way to relieve stress...an outlet.
Yes, that's when major shifts began. I often remind myself that I could have gone to the gym, walked on the beach or in the neighborhood. I could have taken up running or kickboxing, or whatever fad was going on at the time. But, I didn't. I attended a yoga class and loved it. There is no coincidence there. God works in mysterious ways.
We know yoga is not all about the physical postures, and how we twist ourselves into a particular asana pose. The poses are beautiful, but yoga is not about that...it's about being a gateway for transformation that can lead to inner peace. The word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit root yuj, meaning “to yoke,” or “to unite." The practice works to create union between the body, mind and spirit.
The practice helped me to let go of my mind...release the should "ofs", could "ofs," would "ofs," and what "ifs." The part of my mind that felt guilty because I was here and he had passed on. I learned to realize that I had no control over any of it. Not one bit. This path of yoga has led me to deep understandings of myself and life.
A lot of healing and transformation has occurred for me over the last 10 years, and I know that there is still work to do. We are really never complete with the shedding of layers that no longer serve us.
But, this week...I will take that "pause" and celebrate Frank's love and legacy. I will slow down and recall fond memories. I will reconnect with those who knew him so we can talk and laugh and share stories of long ago. That will feed my soul.
I know he is no longer here on earth, but his spirit carries on and is always around. A friend once reminded me The Law of Conservation of Energy states, "energy is never created nor destroyed, but may be transformed from one form to another." Since we are energetic beings, those words truly resonated with me and allows me to know that his energy, his essence or his soul, is always around. All I have to do is call upon it.
Life does not come with a map on how to navigate it, and we know we will all experience twists and turns, highs and lows, from everyday challenges to traumatic events with more lasting impact, like the death of a loved one, a life-altering accident, or a serious illness. Each change affects us differently, bringing a unique flood of thoughts, strong emotions, and uncertainty. Yet, we can choose to adapt well to life-changing and stressful situations if we wish to. Ultimately, it is our decision. We have the ability to make choices and pivot at any time to live the life we were meant to live.
"When you change the way you look at things. The things you look at change."
Many blessings to you all! 💕 - Cheryl