Painful Markers

I am really hurting. Five years seems like such a long time and my life is nothing like I thought it would be.  This marker caused me to take pause because maybe it is a year thing and the five year memorial ceremony on Wednesday or maybe it is because I finally allowed myself to feel something for someone else again.  Whatever the reason, I crashed this morning.  The simple fact is that I am not the girl I once was and I often wonder if Phil would even recognize or like me now.

Five years ago, I was just a quiet teacher content to live in her family’s shadow.  Each of my children and Phil had stars that shone so bright.  It was okay for me to be the quiet cheerleader and the girl so shy that she was not comfortable going into the teacher lounge.  Five years ago, I was a runner, but running was just running, not a place to meet someone I deeply care about or races I looked forward to.  I hid there, also.  I knew who I was as a wife, mother, teacher and I never questioned wanting more.  I looked forward to following…I did that well.  While I had feelings and while it wasn’t always easy to give up jobs I loved, cities I fit into, or a deal with a husband who had a calling to serve, to outwork everyone to prove his worth and to get promotions.  In fact, it was often lonely and difficult.  It feels disloyal even saying that which is part of the problem.

In the past five years, I have grown.  I know that Phil loved me well and that I loved him well until his very last breath.  That will never change.  Had he lived?  I would still be loving him well, but that is not an option.  Nothing is going to change the events of 27 April, but in the recognition of how much time has passed and the person I have changed into, I realize that Phil wouldn’t be comfortable with this Linda.  He was quiet, unassuming, and never liked attention.  He would have hated that I tell his story and that I share family secrets.  He liked that I never had meltdowns or that I wasn’t emotional.  I wear my feelings on my sleeve now and that isn’t always a good thing.

As a mother of five children and as a military spouse for 23 years, I was good at putting off what I wanted or even needed because I wanted to do it and I felt like I needed to do it.  Five years later, it is still strange to be able to spend money the way I want, eat and live the way I want, and to plan for a future that I still do not know what I want. I don’t even know what city any more.   All I know is that I liked knowing what the future held and now it most looms as nothing special.  It is strange knowing that with Phil’s death, I can take his social security at 60 or that I can retire at 62.  I never thought about it before, because the future was supposed to be when his military career ended in a house in Port Angeles, WA or Leavenworth, WA.  All of those plans with Phil seemed so far away, but they seemed attainable.  I don’t have plans anymore and that time seems so near.

Phil hated the thought of growing old.  He thought I was old when he was killed.  He never made that age.  Here I am—older still—and I find that there is still so much more that I want to do.  I am afraid—I have always been afraid, but five years later, I am tightly squeezing my eyes and leaping.  I am learning to trust myself and my heart.  I often used to talk myself out of anything I wanted or feelings that I felt. I run when I am scared.  I still want to run, but I have developed a strength that keeps me from it.

I hate markers because it makes me take a hard look at myself.  I can see that changes both in the lines that developed on my face and in the transparency of my heart.  I see the strength I never knew I had and I recognize that I no longer cower in fear. I recognize that I no longer wear masks very well and that I tell people and show people in my life that they matter.  I am not the quiet girl hiding in the corner any more.    I feel my heart growing in every area, but I wish I had a crystal ball.  I wish I knew where my life was going to take me.  I wish I knew if Phil would even like me if he knew me now.  I wish I had not been so stupid the last few days of his life.  I wish…I wish….that it had been me instead of him because he had so much more to give and he was the amazing one.

 

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