The fourth anniversary of Joel’s death is a mere 2 months away and I can hardly believe it is upon us. So much has changed in this last year of my family’s life, it is almost dizzying to think about.
The biggest change, of course, was loving someone again. I know I’ve told you before, I never thought it would happen to me. I had no plans to ever be in another relationship. Then it came to me, in ways that still are miraculous to think about.
A few months ago I actually Googled the phrase “Will I still be a widow if I date someone else?” Sounds silly, huh, but even I was confused.
For almost four years now that was the way I defined myself. I, Sarah Rodriguez, was a widow.
But now, my life circumstances were changing, yet again, and it left me wondering what it meant for me.
The funny thing is, I am not into labels or defining things. Surprisingly, in this area, I was ok with it because this label needed no further explanation.
I was a girl, who’d lost a husband; people could put it all together from there. The many ways my life was hell? Anyone could surmise that from the word “widow” all on their own.
But where does that leave me now? My life, for the first time in years, no longer feels like a horrific nightmare. It is filled with joy and hopefulness, the smallest of resemblances to what it once was. I am not merely surviving my lungs are filled with air.
Even without the Google search, do you know what I realized?
I will always be a widow.
I will always be the girl who stood over her husband and watched him take his last breath.
I will always be the girl who held his hand and sobbed as I said goodbye.
I will always be the girl who had to write an obituary and grapple with words as I did.
I will always be the girl who had to, at 31 years old, walk into a funeral home to plan a service.
I will always be the girl who had to empty out a closet half filled with my husband’s clothes.
I will always be the girl who’s had to agonize over every decision I’ve made since he’s been gone.
I am still that girl. I will always be that girl.
Those events marked me in indelible ways. I could never forget what we walked through if I tried, even though on some days I wish I could. Our scars bare the reminder of the pain we endured.
I will forever be a widow.
Yesterday I did something I had been thinking of doing for a while; I decided to add to my tattoo collection. (I have several already, surprised? Ha!)
My last time in a tattoo shop was right after Joel died. A group of girlfriends and I went to Dallas, where I sat for nearly 3 hours getting a tattoo of a compass on my ribcage. The compass symbolized our family moving forward, but always being guided in our journey along the way.
The four years since that day have continued to be one wild ride. I knew I wanted another tattoo to symbolize this portion of our journey, but wasn’t able to figure out exactly what I wanted.
Then it came to me, and I knew I had to get it done, right then.
So yesterday, I walked into the shop and told them what I wanted.
A small semi-colon.
When you end a sentence you end it with a period. A semi-colon indicates you are between two parts of a statement, yet there is still more to come.
Nothing could have symbolized our journey more.
The fact that I got it done on National Widows Day was not at all planned but couldn’t have been more perfect.
You see, that is a day for Widow’s and unfortunately it is a club to which I will always belong. It is a part of who I am, a part of my story.
Yet the semi-colon represents, not only who I am, but also who I am becoming.
And I’m proud of who I’m becoming.
A girl marked by her past, yes, but one who is also walking towards an incredible future.
A girl who has seen the world crumble all around her yet has taken in the view from the mountain top.
She’s wept, she’s laughed.
She’s lost, she’s gained.
She’s mourned, she’s rejoiced.
I am who I was, I am also who I am becoming.
There was an Act One, and now we’re in the midst of our Act Two.
And in this moment, on this day, it is forever seen. A tangible reminder of what my heart has always known, but my wrist triumphantly displays…our story isn’t over yet…
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