I just sat down to finalize & glue my 2021 vision board when a powerful memory rushed over me. I had to pause to follow where it led me and get it into words before I could continue.
January 2016 was the first time I set an intention for my year. It came to me in a voice & a vision on my mat at the Yoga Lounge. Be Love. They had the shirt with these words hanging in the lobby. It was even purple. I purchased it and brought it home as my wearable symbol of my focus for the new year. I would make my choices from a place of love. I felt as if I was overflowing with love in the improved health that I had created and I wanted to share it. I knew it was going to be the best year of my life and I wanted to be open and fully present in it.
My husband died less than two months later.
I stood for hours at his calling hours as the line of people poured in to mourn Kenny and pay their respects to me and our family. My loved ones encouraged me a few times to take a break, but I couldn’t. I desperately needed to hear the words that each person came to share with me. While much of the memories from those early days are wrapped in a cloudy fog, I will always carry the overall theme with me. Kenny was LOVE. He was out in the world “being love” in his own unique ways. I both knew this AND did not fully grasp it until he was gone. I heard story after story about the times Kenny helped someone out, both legally and as a genuine friend. For so many people, he was their one phone call. They knew when he answered, they would reach a nonjudgmental, wise friend who would listen and, if needed, share his counsel. I still wonder about those people and hope they have found someone else they can trust to call. I was also told, over and over, about how much Kenny loved us, the way he would light up when he talked about me, Josh and Jane, how proud he was to be my husband and their father. Kenny was not a publicly mushy guy, and though I knew he loved us, it was still somewhat surprising to hear that he gushed about us. I tried to look each person in the eyes and let their stories soak into my mind and soul.
The next morning, I dragged myself out of bed in a haze of utter shock and despair realizing I needed to get dressed to attend my husband’s funeral. Inspired by all of the Kenny stories, I reached into my closet and pulled my Be Love shirt off the hanger. I knew the only way I could survive, if that was even possible, was to keep believing in love.
The church was packed when we arrived. (I’ll try to put this into words, but I am certain they will fall short). The sanctuary was filled with both limitless love and unbearable pain. I had never felt so loved, and at the same time I felt like my suffering would crush the life out of me. I bawled, and I actually laughed, as people shared their eulogies. All of these paradoxical, overpowering feelings existed all together.
Near the end, I was compelled to turn around and look at everyone in the aisles. With our three-year-old daughter perched on my hip, I slowly turned in a circle to take in all of the faces, to show her all of the people who came because Kenny is important to them. I immersed myself in the compassion and love coming through their eyes. I am so grateful I followed that instinct to have that moment to keep with me forever.
At the end of his service, someone walked up front to take a picture of the crowd. At first the idea made me cringe. Who would want to document this horrible moment? But then I realized I might cherish the photo someday and it would serve as a visual reminder of all of the indescribable feelings I experienced that day, the big, expansive love that Kenny shared while he was here, and all of the lives that will continue to be influenced by his love. Most of us actually smiled for the photo as we shone in the light of Kenny’s love.
I’m holding these brutiful memories close and keeping Kenny’s love with me as I set my intention and vision for another year without him here.