In 2006, a day after I hit the one year mark -I had my first panic attack. The full blown panic that grabs hold of your insides and refuses to let them go. The racing thoughts, struggle to breath and full on panic that comes with it. At the time, I didn’t know what it was. Just that I was officially, going crazy. For good this time. Looking back I realize now, it was because I had so much tied up in that anniversary day -I expected so much from that day and when nothing happened, when the day went on as if nothing had happened -everything came crashing in.
It was the start this journey, this path, this road. This process, if you will.
One of my biggest worries, perhaps -was that I would actually -forget her. That perhaps -and one day I would no longer remember the things that made her, her. I would forget her smile, her laugh, the way her fingers wrapped around mine. That one day I would forget what it felt like to walk into a room where she was. That perhaps I would remember her -but not for who she really was to me.
It wasn’t long after that, that I realized I needed an outlet. A way to enjoy her memories and pictures -a way, if you will -to remind myself that she did exist, and that I wasn’t going crazy. A way to preserve these special things that meant the world to me. The details.
I designed a website (that I have since closed down) that centered around her images. I wrote pages after pages of words that made no sense -trying desperately, to understand what was happening…and eventually, I settled on creating a page for her -once a year. At the time, I didn’t have any plans to stop. I would create a page, every year -until the day I died.
…and for the past twelve years, that is exactly what I have done. I have dug up old pictures, memories, quotes and sayings -I have spent weeks, sometimes months -trying to assemble something. The pages weren’t perfect -yet I spent hours going over them attempting to perfect them. Each year means something different, something special. Each page holds the feelings and thoughts that were going through my mind. It gave me a way to remember her -creatively, without going off the edge.
It gave me something to focus on, to apply myself to, to throw myself at. A distraction, if you will.
2015, I thought, would be the last year. A ten year mark. What better way to put an end to an old habit. But ten years proved to be just as challenging, if not more so, than that first year. I needed the distraction. I needed her pictures…I needed her memory. And so I continued. As uninspired and painful as it was -I made the page.
This year, I feel is the year. The year I will finally put to rest, an old habit that got me through some tough times.
It isn’t because I am going to forget her. It isn’t that I will stop remembering her. It isn’t that I wish to stop sharing her with the world -because believe me, if I could, I would. It is just that I have reached a place in my life, in my process -where I feel I need to move on. I need to let go.
She will always be in my heart. She will always be in my thoughts. I will always smile when I think of her -and hope others do too. I will still look at her pictures, remember her quirks and wish to hold her -but once more.
But I no longer need to throw myself into a project -once a year. I no longer need a distraction. Sure, I still miss her -I think I always will. Sure, I still will remember her -everyday of every year. Sure, I will still wonder how it’s possible that this much time has passed -without her. But I need to let her go.
I have come to realize that I will never forget her. There may be days where I can’t remember what her voice sounded like -but that too, comes back when I least expect it. I will never forget her sparkling blue eyes, contagious laughter or sticky kisses. I will never forget the way she smiled -and made others smile. I will never forget her hugs. I will never forget these things. I no longer have the fear of forgetting.
I have come to realize that the tighter I hold her memory -the more I lose. The more I let go -the more I gain…which has helped me realize
…that it is time to let her go…
I love you my girl, I always will.