One year, Day two

The dreaded one year mark.

It was two days ago.

I had all of these thoughts going through my head two days ago and I just couldn’t write all of them down because I didn’t think that I could stop the tears long enough…Yesterday felt like a recovery day and so this morning on one year, day two, I feel like writing.

Several months ago, I started thinking about what I wanted to do on the one year mark. I poured over maps, closing my eyes and picking a spot. I poured over places we had been and whether or not that is where I wanted to be. I made plans to go to a wedding three weeks after the one year mark before I could make any plans for myself…Then I decided that the one place that I wanted to be on the day it happened was where it happened. Not the city where it happened. Not near where it happened. Exactly where it happened.

I know some people will think I’m crazy and may not understand but through all of this I am beginning to feel okay with people not understanding my actions or putting another twist on them. I’m not searching for peace or closure because I will never truly have either. I may have moments of peace but closure – this is something that will never have closure no matter what the psychologists say.

I had decided that what I wanted to do was stand where he died. Have two cans of Guinness and a pack of cigarettes with me. I would drink one, have a few smokes, open the other for him and leave a few smokes for him. I would talk to him. Tell him about the past year. Everything that his son is doing. What I am doing. Tell him I miss him. Just talk to him like I used to talk to him. I guess in a way I consider this place a grave site. People visit the graves of their loved ones, to feel closure to them, to talk to them, to do exactly what I did two days ago. Over this past year, having a grave site, or anything is what I have been missing. A place to talk to him, to feel near to him, to just sit.

Of course, going out to the site, I got lost. Not surprising. But I found my way there and managed to buy the beer and smokes and a hazelnut latte (for him as well), and get there prior to the time of the crash. I parked my car next to some farms fields and got my boots on (learned from a previous jaunt out there) and I started walking. As I got closer the tears started pouring. I turned in between some trees and made the final walk to that place. The grass had grown pretty tall where the helicopter had been. It was extremely green and new looking. The field in front of it had been cut recently. I’m glad for that because I doubt I would have been able to get there easily. Around the time of the crash I opened my Guinness and sat and cried, not able to say anything to him. The one thing that I wish could be changed was that I had been there with him. I wanted to hold his hand, even if I lost him. I wanted to be there for him. So this day, on the year mark, I was there. At the time of the crash.

A helicopter flew past this spot not too far away, around that time…

Eventually I talked. And talked.

And as I talked, the wind gently blew.

And as I talked, two eagles flew overhead.

They stayed the entire time I was there…showing up at the time…the time they would have died.

There came a point where I felt, not peaceful, not sad, not tired…just that it was okay to go. That we had a good talk. That he knew I was there. That it was time. My heart did not feel as heavy and it was easier to put one foot in front of the other, in many ways. Maybe it was the eagles. A sign. A sign I had been begging him for, for months.

This feeling carried over to yesterday. I felt like I could move again after many months of struggling…of just writing lists so that I got some things accomplished. I hope that it lasts a little while. I could use it.

So many people contacted me that day with words of love and encouragement. Phone calls (all to voice mail…sorry) that helped me through the day. I heard their pain, that it is still hard for all of us. I think he knows and those eagles that were there…strength.

It has been hard to celebrate life…his life, our life. To remember the our time together. In a way, I can’t remember. Or haven’t been able to…the mind’s way of protecting. I remember more and more everyday. I recently went back to a journal I kept when we first started dating…it has reinforced that this really did happen – that I did find this person.

In an attempt to celebrate what we had, here are some words from both of us:

For some reason I was compelled to write in this journal as if I was writing to my child or children:

October 6, 2003

Thee is so much to write and to tell – about how it all started. It appears that the question of when it all started could be answered two different ways. I suppose I must tell you both ways. I met your father about seven years ago. He was the brother-in-law of one of my close friends. I liked him then and got to know him a bit at their wedding and he was at KU while I was there. That is where I got to know him the first time. We ended up dating for a bit but it didn’t work out that time. Probably because we were both going thru things at that time – and we probably would not know love if it hit us on the head (well, maybe he would but not me). I know I was not ready for anything, I was still trying to figure myself out. As for your father – that is his story to tell.

The second time we met was September 26, 2003. He walked into the bar where I was hosting a social gathering. My jaw dropped and I went right up to him. He was in shock just as much as I was. You see, I never forgot about him and always inquired as to how he was doing. I came to find out that your father never forgot about me – things and situations would remind him of me.

We exchanged numbers and went our separate ways. That Sunday, your father called and we made dinner plans for that evening.Now you must understand that I was not lookign for any relationship. I was tired of relationships. So having a man step int o my life right now was just not going to happen. When we went out that Sunday it was so comfortable. It was easy but not because of our history together because both of us had changed so much – but it just was. When he dropped me off it was difficult to leave – especially when both of us leaned in to kiss goodnight. It was electric but not the electricity that you feel when you kiss someone for the first time – it was an electricity – a connection that told me I was home – that this was the person I was meant to be with – a familiarity as if he and I were in love in a past life.

Later that week, it became more apparent. I could see this path before me. It felt right and comfortable. It was like my heart was waking up (your father’s words) and it felt like a homecoming all at the same time. It only amazes me – I feel lucky.I must tell yu that I opened this journal today to write my feelings down but felt that I needed to write to someone – and that someone are my children or my child. I know that I am going to marry this man and I want my love story to be shared. So here I am – writing to my children that don’t exist about a man who I have only know for a week – well, one week and seven years.

My heart has woken up and I have come home.

The following is the full letter that Doug wrote to me, some will sound familiar:

October 19, 2003

For my Goddess,

I have always felt hat the saying ‘things happen for a reason’, or ‘it was meant to happen’ were nice sentiments, or a pleasant way to look at things, but I have never thought of them as true. I don’t always believe in simple coincidence either. Sometimes things have just felt too juxtaposed, and I think that maybe I was really supposed to meet this or that person , or this was really supposed to happen in this way. This is how I think about running into you at Boozefish. Having met you almost makes me believe that there is a god, or fate, or that things are somehow planned out for us. You said it so well when you said it felt like a homecoming when we kissed. I feel like I’m destined to be with you. It’s only been a matter of weeks but I feel like I’m meant to spend the rest of my life with you. I know that some of this is that feeling of euphoria that hits a person when they realize that someone else cares deeply for them and wants to touch them and be near them whenever they can. I have felt that feeling several times before, and this time it’s that feeling again, but there’s so much more.

When I am with you it feels like I finally have it in me to realize my full potential as a man, as a human being. I feel like I can be gallant and noble when I’m with you, and I don’t even have to try. I don’t have to “try” anything when I’m with you, I just “am”. I am alive, I am filled, I am completed. I am silly and goofy and honest. And I am True, to myself, and to you, and to everyone near me in my life. I am. And I don’t even have to try.

There are definitely parts of me that are intimidated and even scared by these feelings. Parts of me are worried that I’m jumping in too quickly and setting myself up for another big fall. I have not ignored these parts of me, but in listening to them I’ve noticed that they don’t sound the same as they have in the past. It sounds a bit silly to refer to them this way but it’s as if they’re much less sure of themselves this time. It’s almost like these worrying parts of me are merely going through the motions of trying to do their jobs. They’re just performing the only function they are meant for while at the same time knowing they are wrong and wishing they could cheer me on and tell me not to bother with them this time.

This time. This time the worry in me is not needed. This time I don’t have to rationalize the love I’m feeling. IN the past I’ve had to kind of convince myself that I really was in love with this or that woman. My brain has tried to make up for what my heart was lacking. This time, with you, my brain can hardly keep up with the leaps and bounds my heart is taking. This time, it is not my brain in command, it is my heart and my soul. Together, I believe they know what they’re doing. They’re telling my brain “This is it. This is the one. This is who you have been waiting all this time for.” My soul knows I belong with you. And my heart knows I belong to you. My brain is just trying to stay the hell out of the way.

On occasion I’ve found myself running some scenario through my head, some hypothetical dialog as if from a book. I think it’s the wannabe author in me. One of these scenarios has recurred from time to time over the years. It’s a dialog between me as an older man and someone who may be my son, or perhaps just some young man I might give advice to. It always plays out that this young man asks me if I have ever been in love. I would respond with a chuckle and say “of course I have, many many times. I’ve been in love with many different women, and in many different ways.” He would give me this funny look, like that’s not the way he thought it was supposed to work. I now know that my part in that dialog must now be completely different, because that young man was right, that not how it works. Now I will tell him, “I have loved many people, men and women. I love almost all the people that are close and important to me. But I’ve only been in love once. With a woman named Jesika.” Then I smile, like I’m smiling now, thinking about you.

I don’t know how many times I have found myself smiling when a thought of you passes through my mind. There’s a funny thing about that smile. It is not a smile of satisfaction, or of being content, like I would expect it to be. It is not a smile of accomplishment, either, as if I have achieved some goal. It is a smile of wonderment. It is a smile of awe. When I smile like that, I taste beauty and glory. I taste dharma and I taste hallelujah! When I smile, thinking “I am in love with a wonder named Jesika,” I smile because I can feel the wheel of the universe spinning inside of me and I think “I am back again in that place where I belong. I am home. I am here to stay.”

My life and my love are yours, in this life and the next,

Always,

Doug

Well my darling, my life and my love will always be yours, in this life and the next. I love you and I miss you so much. Thank you for loving me and giving me this gift of you.

Us celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary with a quick stop in Yellowstone where he proposed…on our way out to Portland to live…

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