A hand caressing the rough bark of a birch tree.I felt it in my body, in my soul, in my entire system. We were coming up on a year since you passed. Thoughts, emotions, physically. All of it impacted, counting down the last weeks, days, minutes of what in Swedish is called sorgeår, the year of mourning.

A year quite unlike any year before. A year where I discovered that there’s a limit to my ability to put myself into overdrive, an ability I’ve always had available to me before. But not at the end of summer, beginning of fall. Simply not there.

A year where I understood, fully, the intermittent nature of feelings. One minute laughing, another crying desperately, heart squeezed tight, tight, from the sudden realization that you are no longer here, physically. And then, like a wave receding from the sandy beaches, gone again, allowing for yet another feeling to take center stage for a while. A bit like April weather, where, in a day, or even an hour, there can be snow, rain and hail, fog shrinks the world to arm’s length, warm sunlight radiates from a crisp clear blue sky and winds makes my hair dance around my head. Fitting, somehow, given that you left us in April.

We were friends. Co-parents.
No longer married. No longer romantically entangled. No longer actively a part of each other’s lives. Met up on celebratory occasions, birthdays, Christmases, and for special reasons. Such as the last time we met with you there (not lying unconscious in a hospital bed), just a few days before you suffered a massive heart attack, planning our youngest’s graduation day, just short of three months on.

As my co-parent, I will always feel the loss of you, here, physically with us. Until the day I die. Feel the sting of you not being able to be there for the children, for all of them–not just our shared two–, of you not being able to be there for the grandchildren.

And life moves on. We’ve all come through this first year, a bit worse for wear, but we’re here. All of us. With new insights. Learnings. Scabbed over emotional wounds, sore still, but no longer actively in need of medical attention.

I feel a burden has been lifted. I can breathe a little bit easier. As if I’ve set down the heavy load I’ve been carrying, no longer needing it, no longer required, or expected to carry it around with me. Instead, I can focus on continuing to fill my life with life, which does include the occasional heart-squeeze and crying fit, a memory flash of you in a given situation, or a wink-your-way sharing a moment of pride for kids or grandkids with you.

You’re gone.
And now