The tears secretly streamed down my face as I sat in the dark theater with my family to watch the Broadway rendition of Moulin Rouge .
As the show’s leading female Satine took her final breath in her lover’s arms, I couldn’t help but think back to my late husband Ian and I lying in his hospital bed together just days before his death.
Absorbed by the lyrics …
Come what may. I will love you until my dying day.
I totally lost it.😭
Ian and I had a tragic love like this.
A wildly romantic, bohemian, abundant, rich love that lifted me up — where eagles fly on a mountain high — and nothing else in the world mattered when I was with him.
Like most tragic twists & turns, his cancer diagnosis only saturated our love story— casting a dark undertone that amplified the joyous moments with contrast, and deepened the reality that nothing is forever by revealing life’s shadows.
The news didn’t stop me from loving him, marrying him and starting a family with him.
Nor did his death stop me from living and loving life!
And herein lies another twist -- a revealing turn in my grief journey.
In the three years since his death, I haven’t really allowed myself to grieve Ian as a person.
Nor our magical connection and transcendent love.
Instead of feeling the pain of these losses, I’ve resorted to quick fixes in attempts to move forward -- to survive. Band-aids like dating and reactive reframes to remind myself that …
I am whole. I don’t need anyone. I can love myself.
All are true AND ... incomplete.
All you need is love!" — The Beatles, Moulin Rouge Medley
Love comes in many forms, shapes and sizes. We can love all sorts of things — different people, places, passions and pursuits. The greek language has 7 different words for love!
Leaning on these definitions, my Enneagram 7 mind that loves to bright-side and seek the silver-lining can easily make the logical argument that I have an abundance of lovein my life!
Yet my heart still tells another story.
"We could be heroes. Forever and ever." — David Bowie, Moulin Rouge Medley
The reality is that my life is truly a tragic love story!
Ian died at the height of one of the best times in our family's life -- two young kids, a new home and a whole new life that we were building together.
His tragic cancer diagnosis and death catapulted me into the hero's journey -- the archetype / narrative where...
- First, the hero's ordinary life is disrupted by a call for adventure.
- Second, the hero has to overcome ordeals and defeat enemies during their quest, often descending into some form of darkness.
- Finally, they return home transformed.
I am the hero who made her triumphant ascent!
I faced the trials of cancer, the struggle of anticipatory grief, the pain of good-bye, the challenges of raising two kids alone and surviving life without him.
I've not only grown tremendously on my return to life, but I've also spun my misfortune into gold by sharing my story and founding moveTHRU to help others heal.
I've turned my pain into purpose.
But this isn't the full story. In many ways, I've bypassed the tragedy of it all ... until now.
"The greatest gift you’ll ever know is to love and to be loved in return"
— David Bowie, Moulin Rouge Medley
This hasn't been a conscious act of avoidance.
It's been a matter of timing and readiness...
Of synchronicity around failed attempts at dating and relationship after Ian's death -- recognizing that band-aids like these only provide temporary relief ... but don’t stop the wound from bleeding.
Of finally realizing that in order to find a transcendent love like I had with Ian, I have to grieve it!
And unlocking layers of grief that continue my hero's journey of decent into new depths of darkness.
I’m continuously surprised by what experiences in my life serve as the keys!
A rite of passage like Izzy’s Kindergarten graduation
A childhood milestone like Theo learning to ride a bike
Simple, day-to-day events like enjoying a favorite food, visiting a familiar place, or listening to a special song.
The Moulin Rouge was the key that unlocked yet another door to open a new room filled with grief.
And I’ve been relishing in it; allowing myself to succumb to the tragedy of it all ... until now.
I chose to spend my 36th birthday alone in solitude last night.
I took a bath.
Read my book.
Listened to music in a dark room illuminated by candle light.
I remembered. I cried. I cleaned out old wounds that have not been tended to quite yet.
Not because I’ve been intentionally ignoring them — I just hadn’t discovered the key to gain entry.
I’m excited to be at this stage of my healing journey.
I can sit in the darkness of my tragic love story allowing the grief to consume me; and easily access the light because I not only trust that I have an abundance of joy, love and life accessible to me, but I LIVE these glimmers, if not sunbeams of this daily!
This is 36!🥳️
To another year of truth, beauty, freedom and … LOVE!
Thanks for celebrating with me friends!
Love & light (and a hint of darkness now too),
PS. Enrollment for my next round of Love After Loss opens today!
If you are ready to invest in your healing, self-discovery, growth and empowerment on your journey to find your next soul-level love (even if that means loving yourself right now!), then I invite you to join us this July!
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