Towards the end of May, I felt a familiar shift in my emotions. A heaviness began seeping into my veins and my heart, a feeling I’ve grown accustomed to since Isabella died on May 31st 2007. Every May since then I become moody, withdrawn, snappy and irritable. As the years passed and I was busy with the boys attending their 1200 end of the school year activities I would wonder aloud to Matt “What is my deal?? Why am I so weepy and edgy?” Every May would remind me, “Hey….it’s May babe. Your heart just knows it before you do, that’s all.” Ah-ha. May.
This year is a whole other ball of wax. May 31st…..Isabella died in my arms. June 1st should have been Matt and I’s 15th wedding anniversary. Father’s Day…..we no longer have our amazing Dad to celebrate and shower with love and thanks. Then the crescendo……July 8th, the day I said my hardest good-bye….the day I watched the love of my life leave this world. Just over one month of days that mean some pretty terrible and incredibly sad things for myself and my kids. Our sorrow season.
If you have read my blog since the beginning then you know all about Volare and it’s meaning to Matt and I. I’ll give a re-cap for those that may not know. Matt took me to a small Italian restaurant called ToTo’s for our first date. It was located on OU’s campus and was totally authentic and romantic. Matt was a little (or a lot) nervous and proceeded to drink an entire pitcher of beer on our date….(I was not yet 21, so I had water.) We had been friends for a few months at this point and knew we liked each other, but a first date is always a little terrifying, right? Anyways, as we were leaving this song was playing in the street and Matt began serenading me at the top of his lungs “Voooooolare, OHhhhh Oh OH, Cantare, Oh Oh OH” I am laughing and totally shocked by this display. I thought Matt Stringer was totally shy and quiet? I had only witnessed him holding up the nearest wall at parties with his backwards hat looking completely adorable. This song, “Volare”, by Dean Martin would become our song. For our one year anniversary Matt presented me with Dean Martins greatest hits and I adored it.
Fast forward to last summer. It’s been a month or since Matt passed and I hear about this restaurant opening where ToTo’s used to be. Curious, I start asking around. I can’t even believe it when I find out the new restaurant is going to be called Volare. I mean, is this real life? THE place where had our FIRST date and became OUR song, is now going to be Volare. It felt so very Matt. So orchestrated. I mean, I had just had Volare tattooed onto my wrist and I don’t do tattoos. That’s how much this means to me. The owners caught wind of our story and offered to host me anytime for lunch or dinner with friends. I kept thinking about going…..wanted to go….but I also knew there would be a great sadness. I should be there with Matt, in awe of how life works.
A few weeks before our wedding anniversary I decided instead of sitting at home and crying and hating my life, the very best way I could honor our marriage and our love is to throw myself an anniversary party. WHY NOT? I made the call and Celisse (she and her husband Anthony own Volare) was wonderful. They reserved the rooftop for us and it was an absolutely breath taking night. It had rained all day, but right as the party started the rain stopped and the sun came out. We had the most amazing food I’ve ever had and I was able to laugh and tell stories and remember this man and this love and this marriage. Volare is Italian and means “To Fly”. My love flew home and I’m learning to fly on my own. I want to always honor my marriage……even though it was cut short by many decades, I can still say I had 14 years of a good marriage full of love, laughter, deep trust, forgiveness and grace. This man taught me how to love well. How to forgive every time. How to trust with my whole heart. How to be a partner. How to compromise. I want to honor that and I will for the rest of my life.
Matt adored a good sunset and this one was beautiful.
This month is proving to be difficult. Some days I find myself crying like I did in the early days and other days I’m OK or even better. When I sit to really think that soon I will have lived an entire year of my life without Matt, it takes my breath away and forms a huge lump in my throat. I still can’t believe God has asked this of me. I’m still not OK with it. I still hate it. I’m still angry. I look at my babies and my heart weeps that they no longer have a Daddy here to raise them and love them and teach them. That they have lost so much already in this life. I question whether I can do this whole single mom thing and raise them as well as I could have with Matt by my side. Matt was my anchor in a storm. He calmed me with just one touch. He told me NO. He told me when I was being irrational or petty or just plain mean. He loved me enough to tell me those things. He loved me in spite of those things. I always felt safe with Matt in this world. When someone didn’t like me or I had a disagreement with a family member, I knew that no matter what, I had him. I had this constant reassurance every where I went that this man loved me with his whole heart. Matt had the same thing going for him. Maybe even more so….I adored him with everything in me. He was my very best friend. The keeper of all my secrets, hopes, dreams, failures and shortcomings. I still feel so married to him….so devoted to him and I don’t know how to change that or if I even can. I still wear my wedding ring, even though it mostly breaks my heart to see it now, because the reality is that I’m not married anymore. I am single. I am alone. If someone hurts my feelings, I don’t have Matt to say confidently “Who cares? They totally suck at life! I never liked them anyways!” I laugh because I can hear him saying it to me now. I don’t have him to snuggle up with at night and watch movies or stupid TV with. I always read a good book first and then Matt read it next and we would talk about it and I miss that so much. I miss him telling me about his day and how much he hated his job while I cooked him dinner. I miss his hugs and how small I felt because he was larger than life and made everything else disappear. I miss everything, every single day.
Yet, I’m getting stronger. I’m learning how to do so many things I would have never thought possible a year ago. I weed eat and edge my yard and I think I like it. I have a well organized garage that I think any dude would be jealous of, haha. I’m finally working out again and eating healthy. I am working daily on accepting this chapter of my life. I’m starting to pray again and tell God some things. Working on that whole trust thing again. I want to know why He has taken so much from me? Why others glide through life and it seems like anything and everything is a flat out battle for me. I am feeling the very beginnings of peace and gratitude make a comeback. My days this summer with the kids are reminiscent of our summer days before cancer exploded our lives. We have a calmness and routine to our days…..a lot of days now feel normal and good and just plain boring. I adore boring. I have craved it and longed for it. Mundane. I’ll take it in spades please. These last two years have felt like we’ve been at war and now we are home and recovering. Nursing our wounds, sleeping, eating, resting, rehabilitating. Learning new skills and ways of living without this huge life in our lives. We know every day what was lost and we know every day who is missing. Yet, we get up. We rise. We fight.
Unbelievably, I am still asked pretty regularly if I am dating. Or thinking about dating. Or will I date someday? Also, where does my money come from? How can I afford this, that or the other? EVERY SINGLE TIME I AM SHOCKED AT THESE BALLSY QUESTIONS. You guys, I don’t even ask my very closest and dearest friends where their money comes from. COME ON. My finances? None of your business. Maybe I’ve been super smart with what little money I have. Maybe I’m in debt up to my ass. Maybe I have a rich sugar daddy. No matter what though? It’s none of your business. And I mean that in the nicest way possible. Truly I do. But seriously. As for dating? Also none of your business. But no I am not dating. I have NO plans to date. I am nowhere near ready. At all. I have so very much to work through internally. I’m a hot mess express. I’m still very broken, very fragile and very afraid. I still can’t wrap my head around loving someone else. I mean, I’ve had ONE relationship in 36 years. To think of starting over? Dating? Cold sweats, ya’ll. Ugh. Pure terror. Plus, my kids. They aren’t ready at all. They had a great Daddy and he isn’t replaceable. I’m in school full time with 3 kids on my own. Trust me, I don’t have any time for that. I will say at this point….today…..I’m content alone. Yes I am lonely, but lonely for Matt, not a man. And yes, I know this widow or that widow is dating or moving forward with a relationship or whatever. Good for them. I’m so happy when anyone finds love. I LOVE love. Adore it. I think marriage is amazing and fun and beautiful and all the things. I’m just not there yet. I may be there in a year or maybe not for 10 years…..and then again? Maybe not ever. This alone gig? It’s not that bad. I do what I want, when I want……and it’s growing on me. 🙂
For now I am taking each day as it comes. If I’m happy and feeling that little bit of joy when I wake up, I take it with arms wide open and spend it up. If I have a sad day with tears and grief, I let it out snot and all. The kids and I are swimming and sleeping in and soaking up every minute of summer. They’ve missed their mama this year and it’s so good and precious to have these days with them. Our lives are permanently altered and while we don’t agree with it, we are learning to be OK with it. We are adapting and overcoming. My goal each day is to make Matt proud and honor his great life with everything I do for the rest of my life.