On Saturday April 21st, 2018 at about 5:30 pm, my husband will have been dead for 18 months. Meaning he killed himself on October 21st, 2016.
The past year and a half have been nightmarish for me. I won’t go into all of the horrific emotions I’ve felt, as I’ll just dissolve into tears. Again. Still. Always.
Instead, this post is about a realization I had recently. And about how I’m trying to reconcile that realization with my still raw grief.
Johnny loved my fierce and driven nature. He, like my first husband, said I was a “force of nature”, someone who wasn’t willing to settle for just okay, someone who was passionately headstrong about too many topics, someone who always had new ideas and plans and who wasn’t afraid to go after what she wanted.
After John died, I lost that. I was existing, just getting through, not really caring about much of anything. One of my worst fears was realized. Bad things happened, and they happened suddenly. (Granted, I’d had many – too many – horrible things happen in my past, things that might have destroyed others and which I survived, but this… this…)
I put on a good act most of the time. But then the anxiety would ramp up and my ability to function like the smart, logical adult I usually am would just deteriorate. I forgot to pay bills. My word retrieval suffered and at times I could barely get a coherent sentence out. I isolated. I burst into tears without warning. I made bad decisions – small ones, but lousy decisions nonetheless. (Unlike others I know, I didn’t piss away money stupidly; I didn’t start drinking or drugging; I didn’t get involved with other men – so at least I never gave up my dignity or self-respect.)
I was lost, though. I had no real goals, other than to get through the next few decades until my own life ended.
Throughout all of this time, I kept talking to John (crying to him, screaming to him), every day, asking him what I was supposed to be doing with my life without him. I had no focus. Nothing seemed to matter. But I didn’t hear him answer.
Until last night when I realized that John never would have wanted me to fade away. He loved my passion for life and learning and not following the crowd. He loved my excitement for art and music and travel and animals and food and books and science fiction and volunteering and business and social work and figuring things out; he loved my curiosity for learning new things; and he loved my anger and determination when there were injustices to be righted.
John always said that what I did was more important than his work, because I was in the business of saving lives. (I had no idea how that often repeated statement would come back to haunt me.)
John never would have wanted me to just fade away. He would expect me to continue to be that force of nature. He would not want me to live in the past. He would expect me to keep fighting for what is right and true.
He would expect me to go out kicking ass.
I can’t do both. I can’t fade away and live in the past, and also be the woman he loved so much. Allowing myself to feel passionately, to live life for a reason, to give a damn about things will not be a denial of our great love… it will be a validation of it.
When I see you again, Johnny, I know you’ll be proud of me.
In memory of my beloved husband John Kelly Snyder… 20 Sept 1956 – 21 Oct 2016.
My Johnny was a true warrior, fighting demons no one else could see. I thought he was the strongest man in the world, and perhaps he was, but tragically, the demons got the better of him.
The name of this project is in no way intended to be reflective of, or piggy back off, Wounded Warriors which serves those military personnel wounded after September 11, 20o1. Like too many others, John was a warrior long before then.
Fair winds and following seas, Husband.
We now have a group on Facebook to help find resources, support and ideas for getting The Warrior Project off the ground. You can find us there at https://www.facebook.com/groups/thewarriorproject/
Follow us on Twitter! @WarriorProjME.
We’re also on MeetUp; search Lewiston Grief Support MeetUp.
Help support The Grief Warrior Project by making purchases from Heritage Collectibles, Books & Maps. All profits (after expenses) go to helping keep our doors open. You can find Heritage Collectibles at https://heritagecollectiblesmaine.com, on Facebook (both a group and a page) and on Twitter (HeritageGifts).