Because She Made Life Worth Living

Tonight I experienced a feeling I haven’t had in a long time. There may be a word for it, but I don’t know what it would be. The best way I could describe it is a mixture of apathy and dissociation, with a tiny bit of bitterness tossed in. At first, I thought maybe it was just the sauce and grass hitting me, but the more I sat there, the more I realized it wasn’t that but my emotional state.

I think the past couple of weeks have really knocked me down. The emotions started the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and it’s been non-stop ever since.

People are talking about game nights and Christmas parties. I’m nodding along, trying to keep up the facade, while inside my mind I’m questioning whether or not I’m still going to be around for these things. I watch everyone around me smile and laugh, and I do the same. Yet all I feel inside is hollow and empty. It’s incredibly dysphoric, and it makes it hard to do anything.

As I got the kids settled into bed this evening, I started thinking about other times I’ve felt this way so I could try to put the pieces together. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to explain this one: I feel this way because I lost the person who had filled up my life with reasons to live.

I Could See It From A Mile Away

I didn’t know my ex-husband was on dating apps, but I did know my marriage was on a collision course for its demise throughout most of 2019. We already had our fair share of issues before 2017, and the miscarriage along with its impact on me really drove a wedge in our relationship.

By November of that year, the bubble burst and I definitely hit a low place in my life. I opted to not accompany my soon-to-be ex to his family’s Thanksgiving gathering in Missouri, and instead spent the weekend home alone. Unbeknownst to Emily, she actually made my weekend by offering to go with me to the TWLOHA concert that Saturday night.

I’m not sure what it was about that night, but it changed so many things for me, the most important one being my relationship with Emily.

Glimmers of Hope

When I told Emily what was happening with my marriage in the weeks following that concert, she was completely supportive. She told me she had zero advice, but that she’d be there for me anytime. And, over the next several months, she definitely held up that promise.

Emily and I spent a lot of time together in 2020. Sometimes in Antioch, sometimes in Murfreesboro, sometimes in Smyrna, and sometimes in various places around Nashville. We spent July 4th together, she went to Gatlinburg with me and the kids for fall break, and I’m sure there’s more I’m forgetting. The point being, I’d found someone I could spend time with who appreciated and loved me. It was so good for my soul.

As the year progressed, Emily and I also stood beside each other as we each worked on our individual recovery. I attended a couple of the family sessions with her through Renfrew, and I cheered her on as she focused so hard on kicking Karen (the name she gave her anorexia) to the curb. Emily supported me as I started digging into trauma treatment, often pushing me to do my homework or listening when I needed to talk. I could see that, although we were working through two very different things, we were encouraging each other. Again, a glimmer of hope that we could both grow.

I found it fitting that we ended such an incredible year together, and the ridiculous Christmas Day bombing made it even more important since I had no internet or phone access in my apartment. So we got a hotel room for the 26 and 27. We had a blast.

As 2021 began, I continued seeing signs that life wasn’t just going to be okay — it was going to be great. And by the end of April, I was living in a fairy tale I thought would never end.

We Finally Had A Life Worth Living

It’s funny how two people met at a point in their lives when things seemed so uncertain and difficult, yet managed to build a beautiful life together within just a few years. Because that’s exactly what Emily and I did.

We had both made incredible strides in our mental health recovery, and Emily’s heart was working wonderfully for nearly five years post-transplant. Our careers were on a great trajectory, Emily had earned her MSW with an outstanding grade point average, and we were planning our wedding. We had so many hopes and dreams, and life finally felt like it was worth living for us both.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the cruel twist of fate that occurred in the early hours of October 19, 2022. I’m not sure we will ever fully put the puzzle pieces together and understand what caused her to die.

However, the worst part of this for me is that I don’t know if the pain of losing her will ever go away. I doubt I’ll ever be whole again, and I am fairly certain that the world will always seem a little less bright and shiny for the rest of my days. I feel like the possibility of ever having a life worth living is forever erased, and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Because of Emily, I’d found my spark again. I’d found myself and learned to even like myself. By her side, I’d built the life I’d always dreamed of… But now even breathing seems pointless.


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