It’s been over 2 years since Bruce died. I’m still setting the pace but the girls have hit their own cadence with growing up, acceptance, and the life we now live. I suppose it’s normal to refer to life before and after Bruce. We still spend a good amount of time talking about life before, reflecting on his good humor and no "what if" policy, but mostly we try to focus on now, the present. I sometimes find myself caught somewhere in between and I’m comfortable teetering on the brink of each. As I draw upon loving memories from a past life, I look toward the future filled with a mixture of apprehension, excitement, love and hope. It’s been a difficult metamorphosis and the transformation, while deeply distressing, has been enriching.
The void exists, but we’ve come to identify with Bruce’s absence, although, I don’t know if we’ll ever understand it. His presence remains. It’s a loving optimism that helps us carry a light heart. Mare saved a few phone messages to listen to her dad’s voice, which she’ll occasionally do when she is searching for answers or needs to know she’s not alone. Charli reminds us daily of the humorous one liners Bruce frequently delivered. I can still hear him so clearly. In the quiet of my mind I can hear him gently guiding me through the next part of living, raising our children and loving. After all, love is the legacy he left us.
The girls and I have been fortunate enough to remain healthy. The pandemic has caused us to reconsider life as we know it and I’ve used the opportunity to slow down, allowing myself to gently let up on my push forward. I’ve had the privilege to be more selfish with my time and embrace an inward focus, to allow the past 3 years to sink into a safe place in my soul that will harbor and cherish the past 20 years of memories.
The girls are thriving. Mare was accepted into Cal Poly where she intends to study physics. She has a heart of gold. Maturity was certainly expected to emerge from her character at such a young age given her circumstances, but her sense of kindness, and love for our family is astonishing. She has the capacity to slice through the complexities of becoming an adult with clarity. She is ready to leave home, I know in my heart she’ll navigate the ups and downs of college life with resilience. She is one of the most loving people I know, which is a sharp contrast to the hard edges seen and felt just after Bruce died. I know there will be times of heartache and heartbreak, I’ve no doubt she’ll remain steady, knowing that her story is a beautiful piece of fabric meant to remind her that you get one lap in this world.
Charli will be attending her freshman year of high school. She continues to play volleyball and go to the beach, she's making a full-time summer job of meeting friends and discovering life outside of Point Loma. There’s not a better place to be than 14 years old, living in Southern California with the world shinning on you and your big sister driving you everywhere. Much like Bruce, Charli remains the calming counterpart to our otherwise noisy family. She has a quick wit and an overabundance of patience and a subtle way of showing us how much she appreciates and loves us. She reminds me of Bruce and I often tell her that she is the spitting image of her father; of which she turns a deaf ear. Someday she’ll realize that this is the grandest of compliments, but for now she is figuring out who she is and who she’ll become. Her time with Bruce was much less than Mare's but in many ways she remembers him in the most pure image. She is cautious with sharing her emotions, but carries a reverence for her father that runs deep and wide.
The most critical aspect of learning to move beyond surviving these past couple of years has been our desire to be happy. We are happy. We laugh together, we argue, we get angry but most of all we love each other with the deepest kind of respect and care that a mother and her children can have. We still talk about Bruce, but we talk a great deal about the future. We celebrate one another and we guide each other, we hold each other accountable and support one another. We’ve learned to compensated for our loss and found a way to transcend it.
I’m uncertain what the future holds for me. I enjoy a healthy state of mind knowing I’ve been considerate of my own feelings, and allowed myself peace, compassion and healing. It takes my breath away when I think about the emotional mileage covered over the past three years. I’m who I am because of what I lost. I recognize it every day. I will never forget the amazing man that entered my life some 20 years ago, the love he spread while both healthy and sick. I will forever be grateful for the person he helped me become. I will forever honor him. For now, I look forward to the next part of my life, discovering, uncovering, and reveling in my beautiful friendships and loving family.
I wish you all health. Be well. Be happy.