I did not know what it was to wake in gratitude. To swim all day in the joy of graciousness, of gratefulness guiding the beat of my heart. Grief is as death, forever. We do not reach a finish line and declare ourselves done, our loss subsided and subdued. Instead we use grief as the tool, the trowel to tunnel a path towards the surface, to raise our faces to the sun. The dirt above my head broke today, the summer sun filtered through my memories and glistened in my eyes. I have made it one year, though time would, as it does, pass anyway. I faced it, drowned in it and, remarkably, surfaced again, steeled for more.
And more will come. Death is constant, his death blunt force trauma to my mind. He leaves his mark, in ropes and ties and closed doors and my anxiety-crushed nightmares. But I do the work, I wake up and wash in the sorrow, cleansing it with my body. But I am changed, my mind awake now, I open my eyes in the morning and no disbelief fills my soul. I know he is dead, I know what I saw, I know I will never understand. I know I have lost a home, and I know I will build a new one. There can be no fuller gratitude than to awake knowing today I will find no destroyed bodies in my home. And that I can endure, I can come out whole, I can love with open arms and foster new friendships.
And what of love, of the family and friends who reached out to me to speak to me of my strength, of my endurance. Friends, I have not endured alone. No one can. It is on your backs, satisfying my emptiness from your wells, allowing me to soak in your joy, that I have stayed afloat. There is no thanks that could encompass my gratefulness. Your beauty is captivating, your generosity boundless. I love you and I love because of you.
I am strong, I am a fighter, I am loving, I am embracing, I am whole-hearted here, I am alive. I am alive. We, together, are alive.