I told my spiritual director, Deacon Wayne, this on May 3. He said, "Jessica, I want you to sit. on the ground. with your empty bucket and all that was poured out from it - and pay it homage. Show it reverence. Honor what you had and what was lost. You can determine after that what you will pick up, what you will carry with you, what still fits."
My grandma was right. (of course she was. why I ever doubt my grandparents' wisdom is beyond me.) Eventually, we have to face what we lost. We have to sit with it. We have to recognize what we lost. ...and then, only then, can we begin to recognize who we have become and embrace ourselves in this newness.
Sitting with what was lost. This is what I need to do. This is my challenge. My summer. My anniversary. Sitting with what was lost - Dan - at the cemetery.
In the weeks that followed this journal entry leading up to when I actually did sit with what was lost, I really felt my emptiness. I could start to feel the pull between life and death; between forward and past.
I spent Mother's Day with my mom and grandma in Iowa. (From the week of 5/17)
Now I'm home...and now I am finally feeling the loneliness when I return to the apartment (where I lived with Dan). I would rather be at my parents'; this place makes me sad. It doesn't fit anymore.
I feel that...and...what I really feel is an ache in my bones. Dan is gone.
Dan is gone.
Dan is gone and I have a house full of stuff for him...and he's not going to use it.
I have a house full of "us"...and no us. Stuff for our life together...and no life.
Being home (at my parents), in the presence of others, I feel like I can live again. Like I am inspired to take care of myself...but being here, I want to hole up.
I feel that resistance building up in my soul, which usually happens when I'm on the verge of a new thing.
I just miss Dan so effing much.
In an interview later that week, a candidate said "someone died," in response to a question about the needs of the department - so casually that it took my breath away.
I had to swallow it down, the tears at my door.
MY someone. MINE.
Dan Kiesling was his name.
(From 5/25 - the day I finally sat)
My heart is so sad. I am so sad. I feel like I am sadness itself. I feel far from everything I once was. I feel like a shell of sadness walking around.
I am just really struggling to see the good, the hope, the purpose. I don't feel like I have a place anymore. My place was beside Dan, with Dan - and all that was here. I was content to let him shine, and bask in his light.
and now, how can I go on?
How can I do this without someone? I need someone to live with, to live for...people keep me going and I feel so lonely.
It's like I was running on adrenaline for the first 6 months after Dan died - and now, it's like reality...and I don't like it.
I don't want it.
...but I don't get a choice.
I guess I have a choice in how I respond...that just feels like so much work.
I spent the day of May 25 reading through our old Marriage Encounter dialogues, recording the little ways that we recognized love in the other. For what fills our buckets other than love?
- Working with Dan: spending time together in the morning,
- driving to work together,
- listening to Dan Patrick, the daily readings, Our Daily Bread,
- instant messaging about random stuff,
- walking down the hall at MSU to bounce ideas off each other,
- lunches together,
- barefoot walks around campus,
- walking down the stairs (at the UA) and seeing him waiting for me, wearing his aviators - or his cowboy hat - or his Ray Bans - and hearing his huff (because I'd taken longer than I'd said)
- waiting for Dan (at the UA) and seeing him walk down the sidewalk, illuminated by the setting sun
- Feeling complete in his presence
- Being told by his touch that I am loved, cared for, wanted, desired, chosen, secure and peaceful
- Becoming the power-couple of CALS and Animal Science
- The gift that Dan is
- Someone being for me
- Being loved, the object of someone's affection
- Living the call to unity
- Practicing our faith by living out our Sacramental call to be Jesus to/for each other
- Feeling fully alive: the rush of purpose, being fulfilled, by living out that Sacramental call
- Feeling wholeness, completion
- Living out our call to practice the presence of love
- Everything being tinged with positivity, with possibility
- Dan pushing me to NOT focus on the negativity - or the fear - or the sorrow
- Compliments on my cooking
- Someone to rest on
- Someone concerned about providing for my needs; someone actively pursuing that need
- Being someone's someone
- Being needed to make that someone's day - to help them feel their worth and importance
- Having someone seek to understand your feelings and how "you tick"
- Dan's way of always knowing how to make me laugh and smile when I was sad/upset/mad
- KNOWING (and having) someone in your corner - fighting for you, having your back
- Impressing Dan by looking good (having someone to be motivated to look good/fashionable for)
- Being desired
- Experiencing forgiveness, resentment, disappointment, and joy
- Laughing together
- An abundance of inside jokes
- Receiving generous love
- Conversations in the car
- Singing together
- Praying the Rosary together
- Being Respected
- Being Accepted
- Date nights at Buffalo Wild Wings
- Being together at Mass (especially holding hands during the Gospel reading and through the Eucharistic liturgy)
- Watching and talking sports together
- Someone to go along with my ideas
- Being the organizer,
- Being Dan's greatest supporter
- Being Dan's cheerleader
- Pursuing Dan's dream was my dream - because my dream was to be my husband's best helper
- Feeling HOME (wherever I was) because I was with Dan
- Settling down and developing roots
- Being seen and appreciated through dialogue, "hearing it" on paper -
- "your compassion,"
- "Your mercy - looking for the good in others,"
- "You bring the fun - always smiling,"
- "Your ability to get me to look at things with a different point of view,"
- "Your value of family and friends"
- Being grounded, supported, anchored, connected and purposeful
- The hope of a family, of being parents
Honestly, I had wanted to avoid this day - a "grief day." But in recognizing what I lost, I finally gave our life a voice. Marriage is such a gift. The GREATEST gift. The best hardest thing I've ever done. The little things ARE the big things. The little things are what makes up the "us." They mattered. They happened. We have to give them the honor that they have blessed us with.