Today marks seven years since Patrick and I married in a beautiful, intimate ceremony at home, just 48 days before he died from brain cancer. I felt compelled to tell him how I feel today, and have decided to share this with you.
For you, I wouldn't change a thing.
Not the trauma, the grief, or the darkness that has embedded itself in the hole in my heart where you lived when you were here.
Not the moments of chaos when you were sick, when the tumor made you resemble yourself but little.
Not the fear I had, not just of losing you, but of you when your terror and confusion took over.
Not the nightmares, the panic attacks, or the depression that have remained long after you've gone.
Not the anger when I think about what life would be like if you were still here.
Without all of the pain, there would be no you in my story, and I can think of no greater tragedy than a life having never known your love.
I wish I could take back the pointless arguments and wasted time, but they taught me to never take anything for granted.
I wish we could have loved each other with more freedom, but I have learned that love does not have to be held in a vice.
I wish we hadn't been subjected to judgment and cruelty by those we loved and we thought loved us, but now I know that what other people say or think about me has no bearing on my self worth.
I wish I could have been kinder and more patient, but I learned that I am human and that making mistakes does not mean I am a bad person.
In my sorrow, I've been forced to face not only my grief, but myself.
I see that even when my heart has been shattered and it feels like things will never change, I can stay alive.
Sometimes staying alive seems impossible and I feel the beads of sweat drip down my forehead when I imagine the relief permanent darkness might bring.
Often I wish I could have taken your place.
There are still a lot of days I don't want to be here.
But I stay.
Because I've stayed, I've been able to see more in my soul than guilt, shame, and remorse.
Because I've been willing to look at my own ugliness, I have started to find my beauty.
My sensitive heart makes me passionate and empathetic, not weak and powerless.
My vulnerability lets people see who I truly am, and gives others permission to be seen.
Losing everything has stripped away my ego and given me permission to stop playing a game I never wanted to play.
I still wish you were here.
I still miss you every day.
That I does not mean I am refusing to keep moving, or that there is something wrong with me for gently holding my heart when it aches.
It means I still love you.
I will always love you.
And without you, I wouldn't love me.
So for you, today and forever, I wouldn't change a thing.
Lisa O'Leary is a lawyer, cat mom, widow, sports enthusiast, truth seeker, soul searcher, meditator, and consciousness practitioner who is actively engaged in quieting down the mind to allow the song to play.