It’s strange to say that, it feels like Charlie died a lifetime ago. Then there are days where it feels just like yesterday. Grief is funny one moment can propel you forward and another can bring you right back to that moment. The moment when your heart broke.
He died in surgery before I even had a chance to hold his hand. Winter prevented me from getting out to NY. In my heart I know he spared me the pain of seeing him with wires and monitors beeping, he wanted me to remember him as he was and not what he was.
With tear stained eyes I walked into the Ivy, turned the key in the lock, as I turned on the light my soul was waiting for Charlie to be sleeping on the couch. That wasn’t so, everything looked lonely and felt cold. I carefully packed his final outfit in my suitcase and gathered momentos for his casket. Connect four, blacks law, a photo of the muppet like dog, and pieces of sea glass. My heart grew heavy as I neatly packed each item, they were his things, Charlie’s life fit to perfectly in my suitcase.
As I boarded the plane I fought back tears, in that moment it became real. Real, that I was flying out to NY to help plan my fiancé’s funeral. It felt like an eternity, I stared out at blackness, the sun had yet to pierce the sky. I wanted to be a part of it, to not feel, to not hurt, just to blend in and be apart of the darkness that surrounded the plane. The pilot announced “30 minutes to JFK.” I wanted the plane to keep going, because if it didn’t land then Charlie, he didn’t really die.
It landed just as planes always do. I slowly made my way through the terminals and collected my bags. Charlie’s uncle was waiting for me, he pulled me close and the tears began to fall. In that moment it was real, Charlie had died and my heart broke all over again. His uncle knew what my suitcase held and he brought me to the funeral home. I carefully unpacked his clothes from my suitcase and tearfully handed them to the director. The director put his arm around me and said “you will get through this.”
He was right, I did some how by the grace of God get through it. Charlie’s funeral was a beautiful celebration of his life and now he peacefully rests at Conor’s side. A piece of my heart lies in a tiny Mantowc cemetery, there it will always rest. When I walked away my world was shattered and my heart was broken. I honestly felt like I would never love again, because love is messy and painful. Love means having to say goodbye one day.
Yet with each passing day my heart began to heal. I let myself hurt and walked out the anger. Charlie is with me always, I feel him when I walk the beach, he is in each piece of glass I collect and I know he would want me to move on. The land of what if is not a place to live or dwell, life it goes on and we have to move on too. Moving on was easier said then done.
In November 2014 my heart was truly ready. Ready to fall, ready to feel and give. Charlie was my northern star pushing me to the one I was meant to be with. One date at Pizza Lucé lead to another and another. I didn’t know it at the time but, Jay was exactly what my heart needed. With each day I grew to love him for who he was and not something he would never be. I accepted his flaws, his quirks, and his bitchy cat. Together we have Baby E who rests in heaven with my son Lucia. In July Jay made it official and asked me to be his wife. A tourmaline ring rests on my finger and I couldn’t be happier. This is the life I was meant to have.
This is the life Charlie would want me to have, one filled with love, laughter, dirty jokes, travel, and mostly life.