As I now have a chance to reflect on our love that was cut off far too soon I can't help but wonder what he really thought. What he really thought of me, of who I had become to him, of the changes that occurred in his life as a result of me. He never told me these things. He never even led me to believe, with any certainty, one way or the other. His mind raced from one obsession to another, rarely taking pause to take in what was going on around him. He had an ability to distance himself from real life. A way of taking almost everything that caused others worry or anxiety, and truly tossing them aside. Not so that he could pick them up at a later date, but just an actual carelessness. He never had a real deep sense of the world around him, never grasped the consequences of actions the way the rest of us do. He just did what he wanted, how he wanted, when he wanted.
This seems so bold to describe him in these terms, and yet, this is the truth of my most recent internal struggle that pains me to try and define. I loved Matt dearly. I always knew that I wanted to stand by him regardless of his actions, to show him that unconditional love existed, even for him. I failed miserably at times. I stumbled, and lost his trust many times. It was hard to hold a conversation with him on anything that was close to my heart; he just seemed so distant.
I longed so often to hear him assure me that he made the right choice in marrying me. He loved me deeply, and would not have chosen any other path for himself. That he believes my involvement in his life was altering, and he appreciated what I had done. I want to know that he viewed my years of toil over addictions, co-dependency, and obsessive behaviors as a sacrifice I made to him. A sacrifice that he recognized. But when I would find the courage to approach the topic, longing for approval, understandable defensiveness would ensue, and I would leave the conversation confused and most often hurt.
So now I look back. Our two children are my rock in this uneasiness that I now wrestle with. They are perfect, beautiful, and without him I would not have them. Without me, he wouldn't have either. And so that part is crystal clear. But there is a cry within my heart to say, 'What about me?'. What was this crazy upside down love for? Was our love, just like so much of my life with Matt, a fantasy? Was what I felt in my heart not the reality that I thought it was?
These thoughts come from things I have reflected on, and discovered since his passing. Some of them are hard to take in. Some of them make me want to scream. I read blogs of other widows, with their perfect love, and beautiful grief and I feel a voice inside taunting me that my love was different. If Matt's relationship taught me one thing it is that love/marriage is hard. Even for those who appear to have it all figured out; they don't. It takes years. Years that Matt and I weren't able to enjoy together. So maybe I would have found my insecurities replaced with knowing if we only had the time we deserved.
I need to put these fears to rest. Instead of focusing on what it was that I was to Matt, I need to replace it with what he was to me. He taught me so much about life; how to take each second as it arrives, and not to worry about the next. He taught me that the best way to enjoy your children is to get in their shoes and join them in the fun. He taught me that nothing matters as much as you think it does. He taught me how to love hard, fight hard, and push aside fears of what others thought. As I was writing this I was reminded of something Peter Rollins had wrote in a blog post on Valentine's Day. It's description of love was so clearly Matt and I it took my breath away in those first days after Matt's passing. Here is an excerpt from that entry:
"Love is so humble that it seems impossible to ever really catch anything but the briefest glimpse of her. She is like a tiny field mouse dwelling in the dark. Should we hear her scratching in the corner and shine a light she will, quick as a flash, scurry away so that we catch sight of only the tip of her tail. Indeed love is so bashful that we often forget about her entirely."
Maybe what I wanted was to be able to shine a light on Matt and I's love. To catch it. To hold it up for the world to see. To define it. To label it. To put it in box, neatly stuffed with pink tissue paper, and store it on a shelf. But maybe our love was constantly in motion. Maybe the passion that I felt for Matt wasn't just his person, but our persons together. Maybe I won't be able to describe it, find it, pin it down, or name it. . .but it was there, it was real, and it will always be ours.
This is a poem I wrote for Matt in 2007, I had read it at his funeral. It seems an appropriate time to share it with my readers.
Meant to Love
I woke up in a crystal blue lake today.
Surrounded by beauty, love, clarity.
I felt alone but only for a second,
for I knew he was with me.
He took his hand in mine and we gazed down at our toes wiggling in the sand beneath the water
That crystal blue water, reminisced of his eyes
As now sets in, and then fades away I cannot forget to remember
The mud we trudged through not long ago.
And whether we are right now, or lost from then I know I love him
Not for who he was, not for who he is, but because we were meant to love.
Our love is is one not of chance but of a greater belonging
That in which he is a part of my soul
This has always been