The room was dark but I lay in bed next to Michael feeling wide awake. It felt good to be in the dark not facing all that was around us. We were in one bedroom of a 100+ year old historical home in Asheville North Carolina with no cell phone reception and a mountain of emotion.
Four days prior Michael’s dad had passed away. It set off a chain of events, many of which feel like a blur. Buying plane tickets, coordinating time off work, dog care, ride to the airport, notifying friends and canceling our plans for the next ten days. We took solace in knowing exactly what Michael’s dad, Charlie, wanted. We were so grateful to not have to guess his wishes or where to start.
Upon arriving in Asheville (6 and a half hours late… thank you, Delta) we got to work planning and coordinating the funeral. As with most of our Asheville trips it felt as though we were in quick sand. As one task was completed eight more popped up in its place.
Tensions were high that week between Michael’s siblings. Already defensive about the need to sell the family home, Charlie’s death seemed to be the proverbial straw. After finding out that two of Michael’s three siblings would not be attending the funeral, we both laid awake in a flood of emotion. We both wondered for a moment about why on earth we were here… again…. being kept awake by a flood of stress and a chorus of insects.
And then Michael began to share, “It’s not really about my family. It’s about developing character. Carrying out this funeral, burying my father on that hillside in Hayesville, being grateful for the man he was and letting go of all that he wasn’t, is important to me.” In that moment, everything became so clear. As hard as this all was and has been, it was so much easier being reminded that all of this was for my incredible husband. I wasn’t there for all of these messy family relationships or to fix anything from the past. I was there to love, admire, and support my husband… which is pretty much my favorite thing to do.
Life is fucking hard. It is full of some of the most grueling experiences and torturous emotions.
And that is why relationships are so important. Relationships with loved ones and with ourselves. If your relationships aren’t strong, if you aren’t spending time with people you love and admire, fix it. If your self talk sounds like an abusive partner, change it.
Because when life decides to hit you, you need love and admiration. For yourself and those around you. It is the glue and healing salve to our humanity.