It’s been 14 months since the tragedy. Intellectually, I know that Julie and Timothy are not with me anymore, but, emotionally, accepting this to be true has been hard. After reading an article on intentional grieving, I've realized the importance of facing my pain and the places that meant a lot to us. I am advised that one way to do this is to write a goodbye letter and to find a meaningful place to read it out loud. Another approach is to write about events, places, and things that we both enjoyed, and gradually say goodbye in that way. I've learned that facing the pain weakens the grasp it will have in my life in the future.
I have not yet said goodbye to so many daily things that Julie and I shared. When I fill out forms, I still cannot mark the widowed box. I can’t accept the fact that I am a widower. I still have my ring on. I have not taken it off since 2002, when Julie and I said, "I DO." I still talk about "us" when addressing house, car, or general life decisions. I love the concept of us. Our address label still reads "Norberto and Julie." My Facebook, e-mail, and Twitter all include Julie's name.
But I know that, sooner or later, an emotional goodbye will have to come. I feel guilty about it, but I also need to move forward. Julie and I were always on the go; in contrast, I have been very slow this year. The truth is that I love life, and I don’t want to waste it away. I also know that Julie would be upset with me if I decided to quit or live miserably for the rest of my life. So I began writing a letter today. It might take a while to I cover all the areas, but here goes:
We met on the beautiful campus of Anderson University. We both loved to learn and to make friends. We were both busy and loved college. We both believed that AU provided an incredible experience. Indeed, it gave us the gift of each other. At some point, we found ourselves in the same club, taking some of the same classes, going on the same trips, and attending the same concerts. You intrigued me. I wanted to get to know you, so I asked you for a lunch date. You pulled out your AU planner, pretending to be busy, and said, "I have an hour on Thursday. Can you do lunch on Thursday at 1pm?" I was ready to skip classes, if need be. "Of course, I have an hour on Thursday," I replied, trying to keep my excitement in check.
Our first lunch together was that Thursday, sometime in October 1996. We met in the AU cafeteria. We sat close to the window. My heart was pounding. I was saying to myself, "You got the date; now don’t mess it up, Norb." There were many people in the cafeteria, but on that day all I remember was you. We talked and talked; I don’t think I ate. Once, our eyes met for a brief time, and I knew then that you were meant for me. I told you that many times over. You made me feel comfortable and loved, and you inspired me to live abundantly. That was when it all started . . .
To be continued . . .