7 years later

Seven years.  

How is that even possible? 

So much has changed in seven years. 

Amongst some of the more obvious the one that floors me the most is my heart. 

7 years ago it broke into a MILLION pieces.  

And somehow today, it feels put back together. 

I walked into the ER, after demanding your room number from the receptionist I went through the doors to find your room, trauma room number 9.  

In 7 years I have tried to put one word that describes the feeling of opening that door and seeing our lives fall apart.  

There are many words that describe it, but not just one.  I have tried.  

Till my last breathe I will wonder if you knew how much your final decision to be an organ donor would impact our lives.  

I have no doubt you knew how it would impact others, but I am not sure you knew how it would change my perspective on losing you.  

I speak in front of drivers education groups and I tell them with 100% certainty that your decision and my follow through of your wishes is one of the top 5 decisions I have made in 7 years that I am most proud of and have not had one ounce of regret.  

Number two on the list of decisions…getting up the next day.

I would say wake up but we both know I did not sleep at all that night.  

I knew your decision but your decision to help others, helped me and then also helped your son. It put me in the path of people who did not judge.  

Early on I didn’t go a day without hearing “You should” or “You will” and kindness was intended but it made my skin crawl.  It hurt my heart.  I would shake my head in agreement and then at the end of the day after Aaron was asleep I would step into my shower, turn on the water as hot as I could take it, sit down and cry.  This served multiple purposes.  1…momma got a shower.  2…with the water hitting my head and running down my face I was blissfully unaware of how many tears were actually falling from my eyes.  3…I felt that the shower was loud enough so Aaron would not hear me. 

Your decision gave me an outlet of no judgment.  It gave me understanding and healing.  Two things I was never sure I would get.  

This isn’t supposed to be about your organ donor decision but as I look at the past 7 years I keep asking myself…”how in the hell did you make it, Alyssa?” 

My answer is two-fold. 

Your selfless decision to be an organ donor.

My decision to not change how I felt to make people comfortable.  

The first answer started just hours after you died. 

The second answer started the day of planning the funeral.  

We sat there with the pastor and discussed music and the general flow.  Not exactly how I pictured what I would be doing that Friday but the pastor asked a question and without hesitation I gave an answer.  “Do you have an idea of who will be doing an eulogy?” My family to my right, Jay’s family to my left and with all the confidence in the world in that moment I said…”Yes…me.”

I had answered a lot of questions in the last 2 days and this one seemed to be not so well received. Shock is a good word for the reaction. And it was decided I would speak, with an understanding that should it become too much and I wasn’t going to be able to make it through, when the time came if I was not looking at the pastor he would not ask me up.  I had made my decision damnit.  I had no other control of what had just happened in my and Aaron’s life, I was doing this…I was getting up and saying my piece.  

When asked why I felt the need to speak my answer was, “I am doing it for him.”  The assumption at the time was that I meant Jay.  Initially that may have even been my thought but a couple years later I would understand fully that was inaccurate.  I did it for Aaron.  

People thought I was CRAZY for speaking at my husband’s funeral.  It wasn’t done normally…being in shock and facing a life changing moment doesn’t bode well to standing in front of people who are just as sad to say a few nice words about the person you are there to honor.  The funeral director even approached me at one point and said, “You are going to speak?”  “Yes”, I said.  “I have never seen it done, you are a very strong person, I look forward to hearing it.” Translation, “You are crazy.” 

I still have the paper of what I said.  

The time came.  I was looking the pastor in the eye, he called me up and as I stood there unfolding the paper I could feel my hands going numb. 

It is one thing to cry your own tears, feel them falling down your face.  It is another to see it in your parents, your family, grown men who he worked with and knew him.  But I stood there and spoke without losing it.  My arms were numb up to my elbows by the time I was done, folded the paper back up and walked back to my seat.  

I would do many more difficult things after that, closing the casket for the last time being one of them but later it would hit me.  

If I could do this seemingly impossible task, I could do anything else that came my way.  

Parent a child on my own, pay the bills, sign all the unbearable papers and that was after I decided that eating, drinking and breathing could handle it without my intentional direction.  

People didn’t have to agree with me.  It didn’t have to be what everyone or anyone thought was right but I could do it…and I would.  

I continue to move forward knowing that is what you would want me to do.  I would say that I wished you were here watching Aaron grow, but I know that you are.  Differently than we had planned but still you are.  The life before and the events of May 9, 2012 are with me always and forever. But I refuse to let it hold us back. I remember you today and tears fall. I move forward with a heart put back together and a smile on my face.

7 years without you and at the beginning I wasn’t sure I would make it one day. 

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