So a friend of mine of 20 years urged me to get out and meet her at Choctaw in Durant last night. I spent all day going back and forth as to whether I was going or not and must have picked my phone up at least a dozen times throughout the course of the day and started texts that looked like, “Hey, I’m not sure I’m going to make it …”, but then kept deleting them and walking away from the phone.
Eventually I made the decision to go for what I thought would be overnight, so I packed my bag, took Walter to my mom and headed north up 75. The quiet drive was nice and I hadn’t really cried yet all day, as I was planning on trying not to. But right around the Highway 82 exit in Sherman I just about lost it. Zack and I had this whole “Highway 82” thing that I won’t go in to, but let’s just say that if you’ve ever heard the song “Take Me There” by Rascal Flatts, that road was a part of his story, and thus ours too. So yes, it was a moment, and yes as I began remembering all the times we’d taken that exit for our Oklahoma adventures I was flooded with emotions. I swear I could feel the “one, two, three” squeeze (I-Love-You) that we would always share to quietly express the deep connection between us, and EVERY time we made that exit? He always squeezed my hand.
It was an out of body experience drifting through that venue without my husband, and my friend didn’t arrive for a while so I was solo for 30 minutes. Several times I looked up and whispered, “Umm hello? You of all people KNOW how much I fucking hate this! What are you doing to me Williamson?” I kinda wanted to kick his ass, but not in a violent way. It was more so, “This is ANNOYING and it kinda really sucks and I wish I could punch you in the face”. It seemed like people were staring at me, which was probably all in my head, but it was just so extremely uncomfortable. I haven’t taken my wedding rings off by the way, and don’t foresee that happening any time in the near future. To be quite honest, I don’t know that I ever will. First of all, even though “death has parted us”, in my heart we are bonded for life, and also, I just don’t see how it’s possible that any other man on the face of this planet could possibly live with the immensely profound shadow that Zack has cast behind me eternally. No one will EVER be able to fill his shoes. Zero. Not that it’s a competition, and not that it’s even of relevance at this point because the thought of giving “all of me” to another man ever again makes me want to vomit. Aside from Christian and Gia there has been no other person who has had 100% of all I am. It was only him, and maybe it was only EVER supposed to be him, just as I was HIS “one and only everything”. I was Zack’s first love, and his last love, and everything in between. We were eachother’s miracles and the answers to the prayers we’d both been praying since probably before we were born. So what are the chances that a love like ours could happen twice in a lifetime? Right now I just can’t see that happening, but whatever. My focus at this point is my kids, me, and my steadfast determination to take whatever steps are necessary in the direction of improving the human condition. I’ve decided to become a life coach people. It happened on the drive BACK from Oklahoma, right around that Highway 82 exit. It just hit me. Not like a ton of bricks, but a mountain of them. I’m GOING to become a life coach, and I’m GOING to get out there and start talking to people about all the things I’ve been through and all the ways I’ve survived.
Now I remember where I was going when I started this post. So let’s go back to the end of the night when we were sitting in Gilley’s listening to the band. Two guys walked up to check out our situation and asked to buy us drinks. I rolled my eyes SO far in the back of my head that I’m still not sure how I couldn’t read the signs on the wall behind me. I said to myself, “Oh God, here we go. I FUCKING HATE THIS! I don’t want this guy, that guy, or any guy EVER to buy me a drink EVER! I just want to go home, and for my husband to be waiting for me when I get there, and for this to all not be real!” My poor friend was doing all that she could to protect me from this scenario. After all, her intention in getting me out was never to get someone to buy me a drink, only to get me out of my head. And I’m glad she did because THIS is what led me to my “Highway 82” life decision …
So the one guy asks about the drink, I was rolling my eyes, and my friend put her arms around me and turned to look at him and said these EXACT words: “Look, we sure do appreciate you but I’m going to kindly ask that you give us some space. Without going into details, my sweet friend here just lost her husband and I needed to get her out for the night which is the only reason we’re sitting here. This week is her birthday, it’s just not a good time for her, and I need you to leave us alone now.” “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that” he said then he turned to me. “Do you mind if I ask what happened?” Really? Ummm, yes, I do mind, but since he had the nerve to ask, I turned to look him straight in the eyes. “He shot himself in the head 23 days ago.” Then I turned back around and rolled my eyes again. To which, he then replied, after five or so awkward seconds of silence, “Oh wow. Just wow. How could he do that to you? Why would he? I just don’t GET IT! Such a permanent solution to a temporary situation. It’s just so selfish when people go and kill themselves. Man that’s just a shame. I’m so sorry for you darlin’. Really. Good night.” Then he left. Thank. GOD.
So here’s what’s wrong with what that guy said: ALL OF IT! Honestly, for a split second I really wanted to punch him in the face, like, violently, not the other kind of “funny” way I wanted to punch Zack earlier that night. And I wanted to scream at him, “NO! YOU’RE WRONG! He didn’t DO THIS to me. He didn’t even DO THIS to himself! He was sick. And in pain. He’d been seeing things. And hearing voices. He had split apart at the seams. He was suffering. And tormented. AND WAY TOO MANY THINGS YOU COULD EVER POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU NEVER WALKED IN HIS SHOES!” But selfish? HE WAS NOT! And I refuse to let that be his legacy. Yet therein lies the problem. The stigma. The misgiving. The untrue truth that so many have to speak to make “the S word” easier to digest.
And thus my “Highway 82 Life Coaching” decision! So many people just don’t get it. THEY SIMPLY DO NOT UNDERSTAND! Because unless you’ve lived it, survived it, or have watched someone dying this way out loud? You CAN’T! It’s “only been 24 days” since my husband died by suicide, and by no means am I professing to be an expert. But I know what I know, and frankly, I’ve BEEN down that dark road Zachariah never made it off of. so I’m GOING to help people understand.