When my husband died, I was so grateful for the love and support that I received from friends, family, co-workers, and everyone. I have never felt anything but love and gratitude, and even a little bit of peace, from all of it. So many people came to the funeral, and it was beautiful. They spoke, told stories, made fun of his flip-flops and terrible golf game. We laughed and cried. It was perfect.
And then everyone went home. Everyone except me.
I never felt as though I went home from that funeral. I will never forget how strange my house suddenly felt without him. It went from a home to a house, because he was my home. I felt homeless. I was a wife without a husband, a left without a right. My life was upside down and backward, and it felt oddly like a prosthetic life. It was mine; I knew it was mine because when I opened my eyes there it was. But it didn’t feel like mine, it didn’t look like mine, and it didn’t move when I told it to move. It wasn’t mine, but it is what I was left with after mine was ripped away.
I never went home from my husband’s funeral, not to the home that I once knew. Instead, I had to learn how to build a whole new home from the scraps of the old. I’m still building, I’m still scraping, but now I have a home again. It is a smaller home, a more humble home, but within the walls of this home is an echo of the home I once knew. And though it is not the same, there is something warm and comforting within these walls that comes from knowing what I had within the old walls of that home I lost the day my husband died.
The life I had started with him ended before I had the chance to settle into it. Now I raise our child alone, without him. I miss what was, but more than that, I miss what could have been. I miss the life that I was supposed to have. I miss the anniversaries that I will never have with him. I miss the children we will never have. I miss the years of bickering, compromising, laughing, playing. I miss arguing about his ridiculous drive to his barber every two weeks when he could be helping me with the baby. I miss the inside jokes about the cat that will fall flat with any other audience. I miss hearing about his day at work. I miss texting him all day long about every little thing in my day. I miss his jokes. I miss his laugh. I miss the sound of his voice when he’d tell me he loves me. I miss him.
So to everyone who came to his funeral and then went home, I am glad you came. I am glad you were there for me. I am glad you were there for him. I am grateful for all of it. I struggle to find the words to tell you how much you have done for me by being there for him, and then me. And I hope that you never stand in my shoes. What I want is for you to be grateful for what you have.
Honor what I have lost by being grateful for what you have. Love completely, fight less often, find more opportunities to show compassion and love to someone who needs it. Look at your families and know that there is someone out there who is missing theirs. You went to a funeral and then you went home. Don’t take that for granted.