This is the last photo I remember taking before my heart was broken. I say that so easily with my fingers on the keyboard, but there is a lump in my throat and everything I want to say is starting to hide in my mind, like it doesn't want to come out anymore.
You know how when something significant in your life happens, good or bad, your senses become hyper aware and things you normally couldn't remember suddenly are burned in your brain? In the good instances it's fantastic. When it's bad, well, it's freaking torture. Pair that with a mind that has a thing for remembering dates, numbers, times and you've got yourself a nice little nightmare stewing around in your head.
I remember the Friday this photo was taken and the next five days leading up to The Day. Every detail came flooding back, like my mind was looking for clues that would have shown me what I was about to come up against. It found a lot of them, but I was too oblivious to notice them as they were happening.
I can remember that day like I'm still in it. I remember the conversations I had with people at work. We were working on a new exhibit and I had been enlisted for a sewing project. I remember later being at Beverly's, picking out the fabric. I can see which aisle I was in. It was the second one, and if you looked directly to your left you can see the cutting station where the mean Eastern European woman worked. I remember walking in the back door of our house. You could always see your own reflection so well in the glass double-doors- I noted to myself how tan I was. I remember Justin sitting in the rocking chair, home a good three hours earlier than he ever is.
His eyes were red.
He was upset.
He told me what happened.
My heart shattered.
I wasn't in my body at this point. I was standing on the stairs, just a few feet away, watching this all play out. I don't know why the stairs, but that's where I was. This had never happened before, and it's hard to forget something so bizarre.
This week is our anniversary. I didn't really want to celebrate it. It's been a hard year, and I am not sure what we were celebrating. It wasn't like our first anniversary, where he called me from Basic Training and we talked for two minutes, and then I went to sleep alone in our bed. It certainly wasn't the same as last year, where we went to Hawaii and dreamed about what forever was going to look like.
Loving Justin always was easy. It was like breathing. He was my best friend. He IS my best friend. I loved Justin like I love trans fats- full force and with everything I've got.
Loving Justin now...can be heavy. But I can't help myself. I love him. I really, deeply do. But by continuing to love him, to see this marriage through, so much has been lost. There has been so much pain. It has never hurt this much to love someone.
My friend put it this way, and I'm not sure I could do better:
"So it's one thing to say, 'Hey. I still love you.'
And it's another thing to long suffer through what that really means. Because forgiveness is so costly. It cost Jesus his life.
And it will likely cost you what you though your life would look like as well."
I...WE...did lose a lot.
We lost a stable home life. Pay. Health benefits. Security. Reputation. Trust. Oh, how we lost the trust.
But, somehow, we have made it through. And I use that phrase loosely because there are some days when I would rather shoot myself in the face than hear about ONE MORE FREAKING THING that is not working in our favor. (To anyone concerned about me actually shooting myself in the face, I'm hyperbolizing a bit there.)
Now to bring it full circle (maybe, but not really), we are entering our tenth year of marriage. First off, ew. There is no way I'm old enough to have been married for this long. Secondly, I'd like to point out that it only took me nine years to really understand what it meant to love someone. Not just the mushy ushy "I love you pookie-bear" love, but that gritty love. The love that says, "You screwed up. Big time. You took my heart, and you crushed it. Then you put it under the car and ran it over. And then a wild animal dragged it into the woods and its whole family picked and chewed at it. But I see you. I see that you are more than this one thing. And I'm going to love the s*** out of you, even when it hurts."
If there was any other way to learn this...oh boy how I wish it could have been any other way. But apparently there wasn't. So I am going to take this ginormous lesson on forgiveness and love, tuck it in my pocket AND NEVER FORGET IT.
So, Justin, let's take lots of pictures this year. Let's surround ourselves with memories that can help dilute the pain and hurt of the past, but let's not forget where we've come from. Let's always remember how to love purely, deeply, honestly, with everything we've got.
I love you.