Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Forever Changed - 11 Years Later

Eleven years ago on this day, I was at my best friend's parents' house. I had spent the day making last minute phone calls and meeting with friends to make sure everything was set for the big day. I was going to marry Doug in just four days! How would everything get done?

My best friend and I were up late, trying desperately to finish the white chocolate roses that were to be the favors. It was probably around midnight, and her parents had gone to bed hours ago. My friend was in the bathroom when I heard something...a soft knock at the door. My heart immediately started beating faster! It was scary, someone knocking so softly on the door so late at night! I ran to the bathroom and told my friend, "There is someone at your door!"

Together we opened the door, and my parents were standing there. The minute I saw my dad's face, I knew something was wrong. I thought something had happened to one of my grandparents. "What's wrong?", I asked, preparing myself for what I thought I was about to hear. But, I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready for the words that came next.

As I sit here, reliving it, I am amazed that I don't recall the exact words. You would think that I would remember the exact words that changed my life forever, but I don't. I would imagine that my parents discussed how to tell me on the way over, which words to use, how to say it, what to do to somehow, as if it were possible, make it easier for me. The strength it took for them to tell me astounds me. A parent's job is to protect their child from pain, whenever possible, but this time it wasn't possible.

When my dad told me that Doug had been in a motorcycle accident, and that he was gone, the room started spinning. I ran away from him, into another room to escape, but the words kept repeating themselves in my brain. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe, and this room was spinning, too. I went back into the living room and collapsed onto the floor. A sound that didn't even seem human filled the quiet room, or maybe it didn't. Maybe the sound I heard was only inside, echoing in the hollow space that once held my heart.

Last year, on this day, the anniversary of Doug's death, I said that I didn't want to be sad. Today, on the 11th anniversary, it's not that I want to be sad. It is just that sometimes, in order to truly appreciate the good in my life, I need to take myself back to that moment. To remember how bad it has been, and how far I have come. To remind myself of the strength I didn't know I possessed. To look at the people surrounding me, and to cherish them and the joy they bring to my life.

Jim, thank you for showing me that finding love twice was not only possible, but FABULOUS.

Dylan, thank you for bringing joy and laughter to each and every one of my days.

Mom & Dad, thank you for the millions of things you have done for me and continue to do.

To the rest of my family and friends (including all you bloggy ones), I appreciate each of you and what you bring to my life.

To Doug, I am so glad that we didn't hold anything back while we were together. You knew exactly how I felt about you, and vise versa. I can truly say that I have no regrets.

What about you? If today were your last, would you have regrets? Would you have said, "I love you" to the people who needed to hear it? What are you waiting for?

7 comments:

chasingalittlelion said...

::hug::

Kristi said...

I can't even imagine.....

JCK said...

So beautifully said, Jen. I had shivers down my spine when you wrote about the soft knock. You were forever changed. I am so sorry for your loss of Doug.

Perhaps Doug brought you to Jim...and then Dylan.

Sending huge hugs. Thank you for sharing such an intimate story.

The Girls' Mommy said...

How after all these years did I not realize that was just four days before the wedding?? Oh my. I'll be thinking about you today...

And, yes, I 100% agree with you. No regrets. Live life to the fullest. Weirdly, I think about that a lot with my girls. (is that freakish?) I think "if one of them were to die today, would they have had a full life packed into thier few short years?" I want to give them that, and I do my best to do it. I'm glad you brought it up.

Burgh Baby said...

Aw, Jen, my heart aches for you, and yet is full knowing that you got a second chance.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Kudos to you for using this tragedy to make your life wonderful--there's no better way to honor someone's love.

Steph said...

Aww... I'm so sorry...