The Afterloss

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Ross emanated such a bright light. That light was so bright, that I didn’t even see it, until he was gone. Everyone felt compelled to follow that light, to soak it in, and to shower themselves in his radiance, his energy, and his capacity to spread joy and laughter. We gravitated towards his warmth, and found our own happy place, when we had lost our way.

That is what he did for me. He knew me better than anyone else. He knew when I felt lost, hopeless, and he knew when I was overwhelmed with parenting, took my cues, and gave me the crutches to help me walk. He gave me permission to feel defeated as a parent, and he was that strength, standing behind me, when I felt like had nothing left.

My friend recently wrote something that has resonated with me. She wrote that, “once someone dies, they become perfect in your eyes”.  It’s true.

Though Ross was hardly perfect. He was disorganized, messy, and honestly,  annoying, lol. He wasn’t very good with finances, and he tended to take the easy way out when it came to disciplining his children. But he was perfect in my eyes, and he was exactly what I needed, and our children needed.

He was a witty, sensitive husband, always putting me first, and making sure I was well taken care of. He knew when I needed laughter, and he knew when I needed time alone, but most of all, he knew that I needed stability. Commitment was foreign to me, and he swooped in, and made me feel secure, worthy, and grounded. He gave me what no other man had.

Ross was extremely playful….like a child…..but he was THERE. He was PRESENT as a husband, and as a father. And that alone, my friends, is HUGE. I think about all of the deadbeat dads that don’t want to spend time with their children, and I have no respect for them as a person. Not even a little bit.

He drove all the way to Hunt, Texas every weekend, and sometimes more, to pick up Tyler, and then he reluctantly drove him back home every Sunday, if he was forced to do so. He had enormous guilt with his firstborn, as if he had intentionally hurt his child, but he would lay down his own life, before he ever did that. He went through a terrible, dark journey, where he lost his wife, son, his family pet, and his home, and he retreated into his own world of solitude. No one had ever seen him in such pain before. I am grateful that he finally came out of that dark place. We all are.

When I was introduced to Ross, I found him to be joyous. He was always making everyone else feel like life “ain’t nothing but a chicken wing”, and there was truly nothing to be stressed or upset about. Everything would work itself out. He brought a great deal of comfort to his friends, family, and his children. He brought me comfort in times when I couldn’t be reached by anyone else. He was a constant aura of encouragement for those who found themselves in turmoil. He had a Godly heart and he was therapeutic.

His happiest role was being a father. It made him complete, and fulfilled him like nothing else did. He would drive all night long, into the morning, just to get to his children, because all was not right, and he always wanted to make it right, when it came to his children. He would never have wanted to be away from them, because that is what mattered, and that was his purpose. And this has been my biggest struggle.

Hearing, “he is in a better place”, “God needed him there”, etc……I can’t come to grips with this quite yet, but I am trying really hard to. I am trying really hard to feel his presence, especially when our children are in distress, and I am cornered to make decisions about their welfare. Suddenly thrown into single parenting, and suddenly taking on different roles that are unfamiliar to me…..it makes me feel very vulnerable, as if I can do nothing right, and that I only mattered with Ross as my husband. I am fighting to reinvent myself, and I am fighting to stay the same. I am a jumbled mess.

His children loved his attentive nature, but they didn’t quite comprehend the VALUE of his presence. He was there, heart and soul, always. He was there when he was beaten, exhausted, and he was there when he was defeated. His children never felt weakness from him, even if he were struggling internally. He carried himself in such a nonchalant manner, that all they saw was his smile and wisecracks, and in the same breath, he made them feel loved and cherished. He WANTED to be around them, to be next to them, and absorb all of what they would give him, and he was grateful for it, and it made him happy and complete. Saying he was a wonderful dad does not do him justice. He was the perfect dad.

It breaks my heart that Reagan and Bailey don’t have their father for the duration of their childhood, and into adulthood. It breaks my heart that Tyler lost his best friend. It breaks my heart that I will never see him again. It breaks my heart that we have lost him, and as unreal as it feels, nothing will ever change that.

So here we are, the kids and I, entering the afterloss, and facing the holidays without Ross. It has been a daily struggle, just pushing forward, but all I can do is to keep pushing.