Today is Sunday. Sundays are often difficult for me. For the 27 years we were married my husband was a Lutheran pastor. And, although he retired in 2015, Sundays remained the same in the sense that we were always together at church. Now, while I find much comfort in church on Sunday, I sometimes also leave with an ache in my heart because I was there alone. So, I am not surprised that this Sunday turned out to be one of those days.
As I was sitting at a stop light on my way home, I saw a U-Haul truck in the other lane. My mind went back to this same time four years ago when Brian and I were finally able to move household items from the home we'd sold to the rental where we would live while building our new home. Since the rental was considerably smaller than our previous house, much of our furniture was in storage. It was mid-July, and since the beginning of June you might say we'd been "homeless." We carried around only the essentials, staying with various friends and family members until renovations were completed on the rental. We lived in the rental for a year, so it was an exciting day for us when the moving van was finally able to pull up in front of our storage units to retrieve our things and deliver them to our newly built home. The next phase of our life together had officially begun! Reflecting on the time when we were packing, living in so many different places, and then moving into temporary housing, I can't help but wonder how confusing all of that must have been for Brian. As I've thought about it, it's become clear to me that this period represented the beginning of his slow but steady physical and mental decline, which eventually would alter the way we were able to live our lives, not only as a couple, but individually as well.
Unfortunately, when May of 2020 rolled around, instead of being able to celebrate this milestone, we barely had time to get our bearings before COVID turned the world, and our lives, upside down. There was never a chance for us to develop any sort of "normal". Any routines we'd managed to establish were quickly upended. The vital therapies that had helped keep Brian's Parkinson's at bay were suspended. Social interaction ceased to exist except via Zoom. And, while I struggled to keep the ship afloat, Parkinson's and dementia collaborated to sink it . . and in so many ways they eventually did.
Since Brian's death 16 months ago, I have been working hard to salvage the pieces of my life that sunk to the bottom of the ocean with the wreckage of life as I knew it. I've found that while some pieces of me are damaged beyond repair; there are others that need work but will eventually be OK. And, much to my amazement, there are even a few that the immensity of his death has changed into entirely new parts of myself, parts I am still getting to know. And most importantly, I am coming to learn that even amongst all this destruction, there is hope.
So, it's no coincidence that after having my memory jarred today by the U-Haul truck, photos of the day in 2018 when we moved here showed up on my Facebook page, with the suggestion that I "look back on this day four years ago." Those four years, especially this last one after Brian's death, have been a pivotal time for me. Even on days like today, when there is no Brian leading the church service, or no Brian beside me in the pew, I am again reminded that while Brian is physically gone from my life forever, he is still here in spirit, especially when I need him most... sharing a memory and helping create a new one, just like he did for 27 years, and forever will.
Thanks for the memories, Brian. I will cherish them, and our love, always.