The past few days I spent in my old town, just a few doors down from the house we lived in when he died. This was also the house we brought our babies home to after their birth and the house he loved and adored. I sold that house about a year after his passing, it seemed too much, and I needed to live with less so I could live more.
My trip back to my old stomping ground included spending a few nights at one of my best friends homes, who happens to have the same floorplan of that old house. My kids and I walked into my girlfriend’s house, gave them hugs and then we went and talked in the kitchen/living room. The fantastic kitchen was why we had picked that layout and his favorite part of the home. We laughed about a few things as we caught up and then she passed me over a glass of wine. She looked at me and quietly said;
“Are you okay?”
I must have had a puzzled look on my face because she cocked her head and asked again, this time a little slower and more deliberate;
“I mean, are you REALLY okay?”
I wasn’t sure what she was referring to and as I studied her face and analyzed the question, and then it hit me…she was asking about my grief. She followed up her last two questions with a little explanation;
“I just wanted to make sure you are okay since your old house is so close and because we have the same floorplan. I just wanted to ensure it didn’t hit you hard and that you are okay.”
For starters, yes, I have amazing friends who still ask me if I’m okay even seven years later. These ladies have been well schooled on grief over the years from me and others, and they are a shining example of the kinds of friends we all need post loss. That being said, I was totally and completely okay, and that fact even seemed somewhat monumental to me. Not only was I not even thinking about the proximity of my old home to where I was, nor was I focusing on the familiar layout of my friends home. I wasn’t lamenting the past or feeling regretful for what was lost. Perhaps even more important, I wasn’t feeling guilty about being okay. I wasn’t really feeling anything except tired from a long drive and happy to be in the company of such good friends. Our babies were all born around the same time, and the kids hadn’t seen each other since I moved away three years ago and they were overjoyed to be reunited. Even the all familiar “duality” that I write about so frequently was minimal at best. I felt at the moment, joyful and to a great extent…peaceful.
I stopped and took note at my total “okayness, ” and it felt right not just to say it, but to mean it really.
So yes, I was okay and that being okay doesn’t mean I stopped loving him or missing him, but it does mean I’ve found a level of happiness and beauty in my new life that is farther than it was just a short while ago. I think noticing that shift and being okay with my growth is part of this process. I think being okay is one of the very best things we can see in our grief. It’s okay to be okay, and that doesn’t mean you left them behind and forgot their time in your life; it just means you didn’t leave yourself behind and you didn’t forget you are still here for a reason.
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