Well, another anniversary has gone and went. It feels crazy to think it has been two years since life was normal. Normal for two reasons. One, she was still alive. And two, covid did not exist.
I often reflect back on what my life was like two years ago, where my career trajectory was going, what my relationships looked like, and who I was as a person. And if I saw that Bianca on the street corner today I wouldn't even recognize her. I felt guilty about this. I've held a tremendous amount of 'survivors guilt' since she passed away. I completely changed my life course, was it rash? Maybe. Am I happy? Yes. Then why do I feel uneasy?
I was talking with a friend several weeks ago and it really opened my eyes. I didn't know what I was feeling until the words came pouring out of my mouth. I began to tell him how I felt guilty that I am living this life that my mother never knew I wanted, frankly that I never knew I wanted, and she will never see it. You see, I seek my mothers approval for everything. That's how I was raised. I was held to an expectation to only ever give 100% of my effort and use 110% of my heart when following through on an action. And I succeeded on everything because of these expectations, then I was praised for it. So where is my cheerleader now? How will I know if I am doing the right thing if she isn't here to critique me? That's the void I am trying to fill. Or maybe not trying to fill, maybe repair is a better word for it? I began to tell him how I struggle to meet new people and create bonds with them because I have this teetering thought in my head, do I create a new narrative for myself with these people, or do I open up about my loss? People don't know how to handle loss if they haven't faced it and I don't want it to be my bumper sticker, but I also don't want to live this fantasy life I made for myself. I elaborated a bit for him, saying how when I meet new people and get excited about the connection I made I often fall sad to. Because she would love them. And I almost retreat because I get scared about moving on in my life with people who she will never know.
This becomes a very sad reality for those of us that have lost someone. The thought that you are only just creating your future and that person will never be a part of that new chapter. I'm not going to lie to you, it's scary.
So, the weekend of her birthday. What a crazy crazy weekend to say the least. I saw the final sign I needed to move forward with my life. The day after my mothers birthday I went over to a new friends place, he was packing up his house and getting ready to move to a new place in the coming months. But one piece of artwork was still remaining in the house and it stoped me dead in my tracks. Of course, of all the images that could be depicted it was a Great Blue Heron. I've written about this before, how I feel a deep connection with the Heron and my mother. I was in sheer shock, it was beautiful and all to coincidental, after all I always say I don't believe in those. This was the final sign to tell me I am on the right track, that meeting new people is good and to trust my gut feelings. For those who have lost someone you may think I sound out of my mind right now. "You got that feeling from a painting?" It sounds funny doesn't it, but when you go through a traumatic event in life you begin to validate the ordinary life and conceptualize it in a very new way. To me this made perfect sense.
I proceeded to tell this story to my mothers best friend and we had 'the talk'. The talk every young person needs to hear when they face loss. She reminded me that I need to move on outside of her shadow and not to feel guilty about it. This was something I needed to hear from someone on the outside looking in. She reminded me that the Bianca I was two years ago isn't the Bianca I am today and that is okay. We grow up, we move on, we all change through our phases in life. She reminded me that we have friends from those phases in our lives that we can reach out to and for just a moment in time it brings us back to a level of comfort and ease of who we once were and we can reminisce about it. But never for a moment feel negatively about myself because I have grown up.
I told her about the emotions running through me that I had told my friend, how I can't see a future with people in my life that never knew her. She reminded me that I get to tell them about her as if she was here, that I get to make these new traditions and carry forward the old ones, that there is something beautiful in leaving the past where it belongs and moving forward.
Moving forward... I let this flutter in my mind for a few days. It isn't forgetting about her or what happened to us, but no longer allowing it to define me. No longer seeing every positive or negative in my life and attempting to connect it to her. This conversation really set me free, I felt liberated. As if she saved me from imprisonment in my own thoughts.
So I went back to work on the Monday, routine like usual. I talked to my friends like life was normal, I did my duties and I went to bed. I felt very at ease for the following week, I didn't feel like I needed to speak about her or what happened to my family during the anniversary of her. I also didn't feel guilty for not speaking about it, I decided to feel pure bliss in the moment.
I opened my mind up to new people and I spoke freely about her, I have learnt that those that care want to know her, they want to hear about the times in my life that made me who I am. I know she would be proud of me today. I know she's everywhere around me. I no longer feel this tremendous guilt.
Moving forward is a scary concept. I often stop and think, who am I? And that is my next chapter, defining my future according to me. It is time to close this chapter and start appreciating my new one.