Dear Randy…

Hi sweetie. Happy Anniversary. Today would have been our 26th wedding anniversary, and it’s the second one I’ve recognized without you by my side. This year has been rather low key, and not as emotional as last years was, but then, you had only been gone for a little over four months last year, and it was our silver anniversary.

I’ve been in Iowa since the end of January helping Mom and Dad. Daddy is holding steady at this point, but he will likely be joining you in the next life in not too long. My gift to you for our anniversary is giving you a heads up that he may be there soon.

I miss you every day-but the missing you doesn’t seem quite so brutally heavy to bear. Most days, that’s a blessing. But some days, like today, our anniversary, it feels like I’m somehow not sad enough, that me being in a good place is somehow betraying you. So I thought I would tell you how I came to be in this good place.

I’ve met some good friends, fellow widows, who came alongside me when you died, and continue to walk this path with me. And I’ve met other new friends who also walked with me this past 16 months since you died. You know and loved the friends who were with me that day: Cathy, Regina, Gale, and Barb, from long distance. The four of them helped me find my footing, helped me remember to breathe, to rest, to drink my water-basically to keep living even when I thought my life was over. You never got to meet Marge-I met her at your memorial shindig, and she and I have become very good friends as she helped counsel me through that first year. And Cathy introduced me to Karen who connected me with a wonderful FB support group for widows of sudden loss. Karen knew exactly what I was going through, knew how to help me see to the next moment when I couldn’t see anything past my grief. And then there is my GriefShare widow women and facilitators: Anja, Jolene, Martha, Barb, Karol and Leanna. These women formed my new core tribe as I continue to walk this widow path.

The boys have helped me, too, Randy. You would be proud of them, I know. Nick and I are continuing to rebuild our relationship, and he’s been so very helpful along the way. He has his hands full with Ezra and Emmett, and is a great daddy-something he learned from you, babe. And Zack is going to be a daddy! He and Alexis are expecting a little girl on April 1-happens to be Easter this year, and I think it would be perfect to welcome little Emilynn to the family on that day. Ian has finally found full time work, and is hoping to make the move to Lawrence at some point soon. He’s ready to fly.

Randy, do you remember AJ’s brother Dave? We met him about 9 years ago at Covenant. He’s a big teddy bear of a guy, as boisterous as his brother, a fun loving kinda guy. Well, Dave checked in on me from time to time that first year after you died, and last October, we started messaging back and forth on a pretty regular basis. After we exchanged phone numbers, we talked almost every day. I went to see him in Seattle at the beginning of December, so that he and I could figure out whether our friendship was more than a friendship, and we found out it is much more. I didn’t expect to have another chance to love someone after I lost you, Randy, this was so very unexpected. And you know what? He understands, sometimes even better than I do, that I still love you and miss you at the same time that I love him. He gets it, isn’t trying to take your place and isn’t jealous of what you and I shared. Dave seems to know that he and I have this chance at love again BECAUSE of what you and I shared!

The two of you are very different, but the thing that made me fall in love with you is also what allowed me to fall in love with Dave: you were both able to bring joy and laughter to my life at a time when I thought I would never smile again.  And I know that Dave will walk through the next years with me, as a partner, and the last love of my life. Dave is good for me-he helps me to stay in the moment and not get so carried away with planning the next hundred steps. And he is helping me to choose joy, to choose life, every day, even when sadness seems to be overwhelming.  Especially when the sadness is overwhelming.

Randy, I miss you every day. But I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart, every day. And I hope it is ok that I carry Dave’s heart there as well. I love you both-always and forever.

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