Well, I did it. I have successfully done what I had to do in order to move on with my life. It was ugly and it was painful. But I did it. Those 48 hours have changed my life forever.
Packing was very difficult. I was ripping the world apart that I had used for sanctuary since Richards death. It was much like tearing the wound open again. As I packed his suits, ties, and clothes I was surrounded by his smell. His cologne permeated my soul but I could not wrap myself in it. It was impossible to convince myself that everything was to be okay. As painful as it was for me to do, I am certain it was even more painful to watch. People who had sworn their allegiance turned their backs rather than to see my angst. I opened my late brother’s suitcase and found the spare shotgun shells that were brought to end his life in July of 2003. I sat alone in the floor of my living room and cried for the men I have lost. For the life I had before. For the plans and promises that will go unfulfilled because they left me here.
When we began to load the truck, I switched to business mode with my soul screaming. My head said, “We must pack it safely and make sure everything is okay.” My heart was telling me that “nothing will ever be okay again. But I had to keep moving, quite literally. I had to get this done. One cannot get up off the table and leave a surgery.
I was dealing with people talking about “how hard Richard worked for this and that.” Finally, when I had swallowed all that I could I replied “he didn’t do this alone.” The wheels flew off then and my frayed nerves turned into fury. I had to defend myself against a canonized ghost. I had to stand alone against someone never thought I would never have to engage in this type of battle. All of my defenders were sitting back watching while we slugged it out. My will against his anger. My steel against his might. My love against his seething hatred. He retreated and I did not. I stood my ground. In doing so I destroyed my past. The lies and innuendos came to the light in way that I should have seen coming in the distance. The people who had sworn I was family forever now lay in a pile of smoke and ash. They believed outrageous things and of course they reverberated through the entire family like a church bell. It was as though they had been waiting for confirmation of grievous sin that explained Richards death. Something they could use to blame me. They judged my marriage and my life without evidence or debate. The ugliness underneath almost a quarter century came to light and what I thought was a foundation turned into quicksand. I decided rather than to dishonor my life and Richards memory, I would simply walk away. As I closed the door I held my head high and faced my own future with as much grace and humility as I could locate.
The cost was the safe haven I was to have within Richards family. I had said that this would be like having all of my skin ripped away in one sitting. I did not realize that I would have to bleed for the future I deserve. I was unaware that people I thought loved me were waiting for me to fall. That the quiet reserve I so carefully crafted was to be seen as coldness. I was shocked to find out that they viewed me as aloof and unreachable because I grieved in private rather than in public. I was trying to be strong for others who see me as mercenary. I have landed and the people who really love me are around me. The others will eventually turn around to see what has become of my life and I will still be standing. I will tell you that I am a survivor. What ever may come at me will not destroy me. I have taken these peoples best shot and yet I stand. Just as a phoenix rises after the flame, I begin anew. Still, I rise.