Guilt is a pretty standard and powerful emotional response when someone we love dies.  I am no different, but I have come to recognize that my guilt does not change the events that took my Phil, nor would he want me to me stuck in feeling guilty for what we would be laughing about should he have lived. 


To understand my journey and to understand the growth, one must know the singular facet that I regret the most.  Phil and I had a good marriage.  His eyes still let up when I walked into the room and he still asked for the most romantic table in the restaurant even when we had all five children in tow.  When Phil deployed, however, he shut down.  I knew he did and I worried before he left.  He assured me that this time would be different and he fought to make it different.  He called me every other day and he sent me daily e-mails.  When his things came home, there were more than twenty unwritten in cards with varying messages about loving his wife.


The last time I heard from Phil was Easter Sunday.  He called while I was at dinner with a friend.  He told me that he would call Monday or Tuesday.  Monday and Tuesday slipped by.  On Wednesday, I got peeved enough that I made a decision that I will forever regret.  I decided to wait him out thinking that he had slipped into his old pattern of shutting down.  I was pretty cranky on Thursday when I hadn’t heard from him…..and then, I discovered why.


He had been on a convoy Tuesday, the internet was down Wednesday, and he was killed Thursday before he could call.  His day planner came back with “call Linda” circled over and over.  If I could have but one minute to look at him in the eyes, that would be all it would take, yet it doesn’t work that way.


I know that if Phil had lived, we would have laughed about this and forgotten it.  It would crush Phil if he knew I was stuck in beating myself up, thus I have changed.  I have grown.  People matter to me.  I do make time and effort to be the hands that reach and the feet that go.  I am more transparent and I let people in and I feel people’s pain.  I am a better version of the Linda I once was. I simply cannot play games or delay reaching out.  


I recognize that guilt is a stumbling block and I recognize that guilt is non-productive, and as I sprint into my year of hope, I let it go. 


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