I was flipping through my Facebook memories this morning and came across a photo I had posted of a bottle of wine.
I didn’t recognize the counter in the background for a minute. Then it hit me: it was the counter at my rental condo from a year ago, the first place I moved into after Bryan died. I panicked a little at the idea of time moving by so quickly. I want to mentally grab each memory and hold it tight, savoring the sweetness of it. A friend who has also lost a spouse posted something the other day that was so poignant:
“It’ll still be a long time before I would have known her longer as a memory instead of knowing her as a person but that date is inevitable. There will come a time where I would have been her widower longer than her husband. There will be a time where I will be alive longer than she would be.”
Bryan and I started dating January 2016 (if you don’t count our unofficial, unexpected date New Year’s Eve). That means we were together three years, two months, seven days. He’s been gone one year, four months, four days.
The gap closes quickly.
That sweet time we had together is slowly being filed with the other memories of my life as I continue my new journey without him. I love my new journey. I love the people who are on this journey with me and are patient with me as I stumble along. As I continue to heal, though, I still find myself hanging on tightly to the memories we shared. Why do I feel panic? I pull out that strange feeling and slowly turn it around in my mind, examining all the angles of it. I panic because I fear I will forget him. I panic because I fear I will lose my memories of him, one moment at a time. I panic that he will be forgotten by others. I panic because I fear the memories I hold dear will get fuzzy with time. It’s silly, of course. He will never be forgotten. He will always be in my heart and in my mind. The panic still pops up at unexpected times.
More often than not, I find myself going through more of the day without thinking of him. I go to work, I cook, I read, I enjoy the peaceful and refreshing company of others. Then the panic slowly subsides for a while.
Healing is learning to be okay with a new reality and understanding that my new reality isn’t a replacement of a previous life. My memories of Bryan aren’t going to be flushed away down a mental drain with no trap to catch them in. They are mixed with my new beautiful memories so they will always be preserved in my mind. Bryan is still here.
The gap between the me and Bryan as a physical reality and the me and Bryan as a sweet memory closes every second of every day, exposing the yawning uncertainty of my future. But with each second of time that slips away into my Bryan memories, I gain another second to create new, beautiful memories. I’m just learning to be comfortable with that closing gap.