Happy Valentine’s Day–I Mean Single Awareness Day

Single Awareness Day

Valentines Day is a day to celebrate love, but what of those sitting on the sidelines? Valentines Day has become “Single Awareness Day” to me because it reminds me of all that is gone in my life. This year instead of fixating on what I do not have, I am focusing inward and celebrating me. To say that I have changed and become a better version of myself in the past three and a half years is a small understatement. When I look in the mirror, the battle scars from the ravages of traumatic unexpected grief are etched into my face, and yet the eyes looking back reflect a quiet confidence that was never a part of my make up before.

When I married Phil, I was beaten down by life. Many do not realize that Phil was not my first spouse. I married young and we brought out the worst in one another. When I finally had enough, it cost me dearly. Phil saw something nobody else saw at the time. It took Phil asking me out 19 times before I finally said yes because he was everything that I thought I didn’t need or want. He was younger than I was by almost 6 years, military, and he initially struck me as a player. When I finally said yes to going out, I knew that he was the one. I fit. He fit with me. We brought out the best in one another. We both blossomed and thrived in the relationship and I thought that was the whole story. I wanted it to be the story that lasted far into the twilight years and when it wasn’t, I have been adrift trying to figure out who I am without someone to stand strong with.

There were so many decisions to make from the start. Where did I want to live when home was a person? Where do I fit when I only knew how to be Phil’s wife, best friend, and how to be the mother of our five children? None of it was familiar and it is still not easy, but there were two choices—give up or fight for stead. I am fighting to figure it out.

I have learned to trust my decisions because I recognize that even if I stumble, I will get back up, take a breath, and I will start again. I followed the fire in my heart and went back to school to work with military members. It is difficult to work all day and then go to school all night, but like a puzzle I see the pieces coming together. Every talent, interest, and life experience has led me into a path that I would never be on had Phil not been assassinated. It is humbling to recognize that I have never been more successful, but more than that, to recognize that I am impacting change. One small voice that speaks up has led to change in the big Air Force. One small voice has put military loss and issues of those that come home from the combat field bearing the invisible scars of having seen too much and lost even more. That one small voice is mine.

I may not want this journey, but by doing what feels right for me and by staying true to my moral compass, a new journey is being chartered. Do I miss Phil and what we shared? Every single day! I recognize something that came from his death. I recognize opportunities. I have opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if he had lived. I have done things and gone places I never would have done or gone if Phil had been alive. I lived in Europe for 18 months and I live on the east coast now. I have established myself in a job I never could have had if I was still following him all over the world. I started a PhD program which certainly wouldn’t have been possible if Phil were alive due to financial constraints. More than that, I have food in my fridge that would never have been in my fridge during our marriage because Phil hated strong cheeses. I eat differently, keep a different schedule, eat out a lot less, and I have less fun than I once had. I miss the laughter, the comfort, touch, and the friendship, but I am discovering a new Linda who is strong and capable.

Perhaps it is time to love myself.

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