Perhaps I am a multi-tasker, but I have felt that since the June 1, 2017 killing of my bride and lover of 26 years, Krista Lynn Sandstrom, I have been making steps forward while simultaneously processing the 4 of the 5 classic stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and the 5th, Acceptance.
I had been taking steps forward without Krista's physical presence - doing activities with our children without her, travelling, cooking, shopping, movies, singing, cleaning, etc. In December I finally drove through (and have since continue to drive through) that Very intersection in downtown Minneapolis where she was killed on her way to her voice lesson, just minutes before 6:00pm on June 1, 2017. While I can endure it, it is not the same as "moving on."
While I probably received more well wishes from others during the Holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas; The truly hardest part in this whole process was the month of October. Krista and I celebrated two Holidays: Our Birthday weekend (mine February 17 and hers February 19th (both 1970), and the whole month of October. Our wedding Anniversary October 2, 1993; our 25th Luther College Class Reunion, October 6-8; and of course Halloween our most sacred family holiday of the Year with our hosted annual party. That was the hardest month.
Keep in mind, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year were hard to endure, not having her by my side as I gathered with our parents and friends who are still happily married.
It has been 7 months of waking up without holding her through the night. 7 Months of not bringing her coffee and oatmeal; 7 months of us not talking, performing, joking; heck even 7 months of not arguing...but through it all 7 months of not always Loving.
Family pictures of us throughout the house, on the fridge; my scrolling background wallpaper on my laptop feature pictures of Krista from throughout her life. My FB profile features 5 pictures of Krista and the photo album of her is set as my featured album. My house is the one we purchased in 1996, The house we added on to, built ourselves in 2002. Our children are from us, my kids look like her, act like her, even my daughter is beginning to sing like her. Mail from taxes to junk continue to arrive addressed to her, telemarketers call her and fill her email inbox.
The other day, I uncovered her swimming gear bag, which I brought to her Visitation back in June, but left in a spot only to be buried. I kicked myself feeling that I had been so careless as to forget! How she would get up every Saturday and Sunday to swim her mile at Great River Rec Center in St. Paul.
I want to be reminded of her brilliance, her remarkable career, her beauty - those things which gave her Life! I want everyone to remember her...
...This morning, through tears, I deleted Krista Lynn Sandstrom's LinkedIn profile.
In late winter when I took myself out of St. Paul in order that I might not worry or think about anyone else but me. It was a necessary step which I had heretofore not allowed. I worked to dispel thoughts of guilt; to find joy in a new light - on my own, from within -- freed from all chains of "what would others think..."
Many great revelations arose from that experience. Perhaps the greatest is that I am still alive; that I have perhaps 30 maybe even as much as 50 years to live if I maintain good health. Yet my love with Krista was my entire adult life to this point.
I know I will never forget Krista. Her soul remains integrated to my own. In the aftermath of my wonderful winter retreat, as I have processed the myriad revelations. She is never coming back home. She is never going to dance with Birgitta, She is never going to hug her Soren as he narrates his newest script. I will never get to hold her through the night, I will never get to live in the moment with her. I will never get to perform with her. I finally asked myself the question,
I get to move forward with my life, don't I?
That question alone produced many tears. And through those tears, my soul: my heart, my gut, my mind all know the answer is Yes.
I am still crying as I type these very words. But I know these tears to be the acknowledgement that I am indeed moving forward with my life. I am stepping into the next stage: Acceptance.