Often this makes people uncomfortable. They squirm and look away as if witnessing a tear is a sign of my brokenness, a signal that I will never fully heal. Seeing their uncomfortable shifting around, I automatically try to repress what is a natural occurance. I bury a bit of me inside, behind a smile and a change of subject. But why should I?
I haven't been 'stuck'. I've successfully raised two amazing young adults solo, started two businesses, maintained the house as best as I could, and have even gone on some pretty horrible dates in an effort to move on.
What is this hang up people have about the phrase 'move on'? Do they even know what it means? Do they mean 'stop loving the man you once swore to love until your death'? Do they mean 'pretend the father of your children didn't exist and stop sharing stories of him that make the kids laugh and keep his memory alive for them'? What do they mean?
I think they mean, "Don't let us see your pain. Don't let us know that you loved someone that much because it's scary to know we may walk your path one day."
If he had died at age sixty-four rather than thirty-four, would people still say that to me? Probably not. They'd be okay with me sharing stories and getting misty-eyed and admitting that I miss him because I'd then be in my sixties, too. Instead, now that I'm in my forties, I hear "move on" all the time as if my love is something to be ashamed of--as if it is wrong or suggests a mental problem.
Move on, people say. It's been a decade.
I've felt his absence when I taught the kids to drive, when I watched my daughter graduate high school, when I see my son excel at skiing, when I taught my son to knot a tie. I've felt his absence on all those nights when I worried how to pay the mortgage and buy groceries as I scrambled to stay positive so no one would know how terrified I was. I overcame. I did what I needed to do and I did a damn good job.
Does any of that qualify as moving on?
But from time-to-time I get misty-eyed when I think of him or when a memory pops into my head of how he used to make me laugh. Does that really mean I haven't 'moved on'?
I married my soulmate. He set the bar high--had a heart of gold, never said an unkind word about anyone no matter how much they deserved it, worked hard, was drop-dead-gorgeous, and told me every single day how much he loved me. Every day. Even if we'd had a knock-down-drag-down fight, he'd tell me he loved me. And he'd always kiss me on the forehead and tell me how beautiful I was--even when I really didn't deserve it. Every day he did these things that seem small, but meant the world to me. I miss that...how could I not?
I didn't divorce him. I didn't choose to end our relationship. I loved the man and am not ashamed to admit it. How lucky am I to say that? I loved a man, he loved me. Now he's gone. I've lived my life since and so have the kids. We've traveled. We've laughed. Without him. Solo. Heads held high.
Move on, people say. It's been a decade.
Love and grief don't have timelines. There is no cut-off point where one day you simply say, "I no longer feel this," it simply transitions to something new. When he first died, there was raw, intense, horrible grief. Now I laugh more than cry. I dance. I create. I look at my kids with amazement at the kind adults they've become. I have clients all over the world. Yet when I think of Sean, I smile...and something in my heart twists a little...my lips tremble...and tears blur my vision like a shimmering bubble holding all those memories of a time when everything was good and wonderful.
When you've loved deeply and passionately and well, there is no 'moving on' there is only moving through. So for all those people who shift uncomfortably when someone shares a good memory of a loved one who has passed and their eyes glow with unshed tears, grow up, sit still, listen, and observe...that's what true love looks like.
Peace to you.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.