A little more than four months ago, I headed to Kansas City by myself for four days. I went because I needed to learn to trust myself. To make peace with my past. To understand where I’d been, where I wanted to go, and the fact that I could trust myself to get there.
I had started blogging just a month or so before my trip, and the blog became an outlet to share everything I’d been feeling and everything I was learning since my husband committed suicide. My hope was to inspire others to live their best lives regardless of circumstances – and I was humbled to receive emails that let me know many of you were doing just that.
Since sharing that trip with you, I’ve been mostly silent, save for one post marking the anniversary of my marriage proposal. Months have passed. Much has happened. And finally, for the first time in quite a while, I’m ready to tell you about it.
Simply put, Kansas City was a game-changer. I learned so much, so quickly. I had done so much healing and discovered this great big world of possibility. Kansas City felt like a giant blank slate on which I could write my new story. And then I went home. Where I discovered there was very little waiting for me. I had created a home full of positivity in the wake of despair. I had come to terms with everything that had happened. I had healed. But it was time to let go.
And so I made a decision to leave Iowa behind. To go back to work. To embrace and fully live the great big wide world that I now knew was waiting for me.
I cast a wide net and began looking for jobs across the nation, excluding my home state of Iowa. Applications were sent to more than 15 states. I didn’t know where I was going, only that it was time. Eventually it was down to two states, and then just one. And in the end, it wasn’t too far from home after all. I embraced my love of all things Big Ten and headed to Badger Country. (And within a week, I was at a football game. Naturally.)
I trusted that the right door would open at the right time. It did.
There’s a lot to say about that process. About believing that everything can work out and watching things fall into place. About choosing to uproot all that you have ever known and loved in favor of something that could be even better. And those blog posts are yet to come.
But for today, I simply needed to write again. To let you know that I’m doing what I set out to do. Every day as I walk across campus, I still can’t quite believe I’m here. I live in Wisconsin, where three weeks ago, I only knew two people. And today, I know at least forty. A handful of which – one in particular – I believe may become lasting friends.
I eat lunch outside with new co-workers. I play kickball once a week. I tailgate and wear red and white. I go for long walks. I do cartwheels in the street. I notice the details. And I am genuinely happier than I have been in a very long time. And I am absolutely stronger than I have ever been in this lifetime.
I tell you these things not to brag. It’s not about the fact that my life is turning out to be quite awesome. It’s about the fact that life, for all of us, can be quite awesome. That wherever you are right now, no matter how bad things may be or how dark things can seem – you are not stuck.
We never have to be stuck. There is always a choice.
A few weeks after my husband died, I realized that the worst day of my life was over. More than a year after my husband died, I realize that the best day of my life is yet to come.
I loved being a wife. I had hoped to be a mother. I had a life I loved and a future all planned out accordingly. But that world ended. I could choose to sit down and let that loss consume me, or I could choose to stand up and begin again.
Everyone grieves differently, and not everyone has approved or agreed with the decisions I’ve made. And a few of my most treasured relationships have suffered because of that. But at the end of the day, I believe in my heart that the best way to honor the memory of my husband is to live the most beautiful and adventurous life I know how to live.
So please, wherever you are at today, don’t give up. Know that beyond those tears, a whole world is waiting. Tell someone how you feel. Take that class you’ve always wanted to take. Get up off the sofa. Live your brave life – even when it’s scary and crazy and terrifying and hurts like hell.
The single most important thing I’ve learned in the past year and a half is that the human spirit is a bold and magical thing. We are far braver and tougher than we can comprehend. We can endure far more than we believe. And we can rise above even the deepest heartbreak.
Isn’t that what we’re all here to do, anyway? To experience all that life can bring us, and love the heck out of those we encounter along the way? What more could we possibly hope for?
I am still living my story. And sometimes, in those moments, I need to pause and reflect before I am ready to share. There is much I still have to learn and I know there is so much good yet to come, because I see it forming, little by little, with every new day.
I’m overwhelmed with gratitude as I begin to watch my new life take shape. I am so thankful that I decided to take the risk, pack up my things, and chase down the life that was calling for me. And at least for now, I’ve found my brave, beautiful life right here in Wisconsin. Don’t be afraid to go find yours.