I gave Andrea's gifts she bought to her family yesterday. Difficult at best. It was my first Christmas without her, my last Christmas to give out a gift she bought. I ate my first meal in this house without her. My first time here without her. My first walk around the block without her. My first night in this bed without her. No "good night Jim", no "I'll see you in the morning", No one to wrap my arms around. Just silence.
But God has provided, as He always will, a friend, a person that has helped me this past week. Andrea and I actually met her one year ago. Well we never met, we only corresponded by email. She had received one of my email updates from a friend of a friend. One day she wrote us. She had just lost her husband in Iraq and was in grief. Her words to us were painful to read and we offered what hope and help we could not really understanding the depth of pain she was in. I do now. I hope I never offended her with shallow words to such an immense pain. Anyway she wrote last Monday, praying for us on a day she knew all to well. Since then we have talked on the phone. She is able to offer me advice that only comes from a shared pain. She brings a Godly perspective and I thank god for her right now.
Today we will meet for the first time. She will be in Dallas for Christmas and we are on our way to my sister's house in Dallas. It will be nice to net her, yet a little scary. So many emotions wrapped up in this. I find strength is her words yet she is the beginning of life without Andrea. She is the first person I have met that we did not share. All my other friends knew Andrea and were a part of our life. But this person is unique to my life alone. She is the first friend I will have that Andrea will not have shared with me. That in it self is a reminder that life goes on. A step I must take, I need to take to begin to heal. But a step that reminds me that it will bring distance between Andrea and me. I hate the thought that Andrea will fade with each passing year with only the brightest of memories remaining. I want to hold on to them all as if I just lived them but I have not. My moments with Andrea ended last Monday. All I have are memories now, I no longer have her. I miss her each day. Especially here in Wichita Falls. I went to the light where we first met. I went to the light pole where I wrote our names in the concrete. I came here to get out of the house in San Antonio thinking it would be too hard to be alone there. I have found I went from the frying pan to the fire. But I guess I had to do this sometime. I have to face that our life is in the past and no longer in the present nor the future.
I wish I could fast forward or rewind my life right now, but this must be lived. The pain must come in order to receive the healing on the other side. It can not be avoided. Much like Andrea’s pain she suffered before us all. I must be strong. Life will go on even no matter how much I wish it would stop. I will laugh again no matter how much I hate the thought. It is just the way it is.
“Jim I need you to be strong now.”
Okay Jokie, I will do my best. Know that I always love you I always carry you in my heart. Even as I move on, no longer "Andrea’s husband". The role and title I became known as. My identity has been taken. I'm left wondering who I am. I will need to find out all over again. But you will always be a part of me Andrea, for you made me who I am and that is still a part of me. I will carry that part into my new life. I hope I make you proud.
(All My Love Always)