Exactly one year ago this morning Zack and I were sitting in a hotel lobby in Paris waiting for a shuttle to come schlep us to the airport for our flight home to Dallas. “So, where are we going next”, he asked me. One trip to Europe and literally could NOT wait to plan our next adventure. He was hooked! After having spent the entire morning considering the possibilities, we were split down the middle: Ireland? Switzerland? Kids? No kids? What to to do, what to do? BEFORE WE’D MADE IT TO THE AIRPORT he had already called Globus to book our trip to Switzerland for my 50th, and within a week of getting home he had the Ireland trip for “all of us” booked as well. My point is this: Life just threw us a curveball that no one ever “really” saw coming. And this my friends, IS LIFE. Each day, wait, no, each second we are allowed to spend here with our souls in these flesh and bone bodies just turning and burning, living like there’s no tomorrow and making plans for the future is a gift. So I beg you all: If what happened to our family hasn’t already made you “stop, look and listen” and take serious stock of your life, please, DO IT NOW! One month ago today? Although, yes, there had been signs, and yes, we had been fighting for months against the demons that were devouring him, I THOUGHT WE HAD MORE TIME!
Unfortunately, I have learned all too well by now that everything can change in an instant, but I think the most important wisdom I’ve ”earned” through it all is in knowing that at the end of the day, it really IS about forgiveness. And acceptance, and empathy, and understanding, and grace. Not to mention those four precious agreements I’ve tried so hard to live by since first reading them years ago:
My husband hurt us so badly. His actions spoke louder than the even the angriest words I’ve heard in my lifetime, and trust me, prior to “life with Zack” I’D HEARD MORE THAN MY FAIR SHARE OF ANGRY WORDS! There are things that may be revealed throughout the course of time in both mine and Gia’s journey that may surprise, confuse and outrage you. Zack wasn’t “Zack” the night he left us. He was someone else. Some “thing” else. Two beings in one body … an angel battling a demon. And as dramatic as that may sound, please understand me when I say this: Yes, I am telling you the truth. HIS CHOICES, ACTIONS AND FINAL BLOW DEVASTATED US IN UNFATHOMABLE WAYS! But in case you haven’t figured it out by now, I have forgiven him for everything, and did so within seconds of knowing he was gone, which for the record, although his death certificate reads “Found August 23, 2019”, I FELT HIS LIFE LEAVING MY OWN BODY on Thursday, August 22, 2019, at just before midnight. I know with every shred of my being, and will NEVER be convinced otherwise, that was the moment he pulled the trigger.
The forgiveness wasn’t just for me, by the way, it was also very much for him. So often in life we are put in positions wherein there is “forgiveness that needs to be given”, but for whatever reason the person that hurt us is either UNDESERVING OF OUR FORGIVENESS or otherwise “unavailable” for being forgiven (i.e., they are dead, in jail, otherwise absent from our life, OR, simply unwilling or incapable of validating or acknowledging even a SHRED of the pain or suffering they have caused us. In some cases, as in mine and Gia’s, it could be a little of all of the above. These are the times, therefore, when you may perhaps have heard it said, and, IT IS SO TRUE:
FORGIVENESS IS FOR US, NOT FOR THEM!
It releases us from a self-inflicted prison of anger, hate, toxicity and resentment when we become victims of the unkind acts of others.
Some have probably argued that what Zack did to us was indeed “unforgivable”. But you see, I have known all too well since the day that precious man’s eyes first met with mine that he was suffering within himself all the days of his life, EVEN DURING HIS BEST YEARS WITH US. Knowing that he lived each day with that gaping hole inside his heart tortured me too. There is a line from one of my favorite movies that has resonated in my mind since I lost him:
That boy, Frank, he lives inside of his own heart. That’s an awful big place to live in.
The movie was Slingblade, and we watched it together often. I cannot tell you how many times I saw tears rolling down his cheeks when he heard those words being said, as that is exactly where he lived the majority of HIS life – “inside of his own heart”. And, yes, it truly was an awful big place to live in. I am so thankful that my husband is finally at peace now, and I absolutely know that he is.
Last night while at dinner with a dear friend, a miracle started happening. Gia is starting to talk about him. Finally. For the first time since “that night”. Up until yesterday, SHE DIDN’T WANT TO HEAR HIS NAME! And not only was she talking about him, but my friend later pointed something out to me that I didn’t really pick up on until she said it:
Catherine, in all our conversation tonight, I couldn’t help but notice that she kept referring to Zack as her dad and her dad as her father.
And that my friends, is perhaps the defining moment of her process. The more time that passes, it is becoming very clear that she too is going to forgive him for everything he did, taking only the best parts of him into her future, and leaving out all the rest! The father-daughter bond they shared before he lost his mind? Nothing is going to erase it! SHE IS HER MOTHER’S DAUGHTER, so I guess something I’m doing with her is working. As for me? I know exactly what I want my own legacy to be one day when I too have to leave for The Brighter Side Of Grey, and from I am starting to see, it’s already living out loud through her.
Forgiveness. It’s one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given.