I reflected on my walk this morning on what was happening here two years ago on this day—the Friday after Father’s Day—the day in my mind that will always signify the day Joe died. (It was June 26th, and today is June 24.) I was thinking about how he unintentionally woke me early that morning with a startle. Leaning over the bed he rubbed my face with both of his hands.
“What’s wrong!?” I asked him.
“Nothing, go back to sleep. I didn’t mean to wake you; I just wanted to look at you.”
Trying desperately to say goodbye at that moment.
I know that now.
I didn’t then..
But it wasn’t then…it was hours later.
And then yesterday I hear JJ Grey singing the song, “I Believe,” and the words…
Let me look upon her
One more time
This beauty that I love – she’s why
I believe in everything,
in everything I’m a believer
I believe in what I can’t change
In a hard lesson learned
And the strength from my pain
And I believe
In what I can’t prove
In the joy of not knowing
And the misunderstood
Let go of my past
Let go of my future
One cloud at a time
Yes I’m dreaming
Let me look upon her
One more time
This beauty that I love
Before she’s gone, before she’s gone
There is so much wisdom in music.
I feel so blessed and so honored that Joe chose me. And I chose him back. Why was I given this beautiful human being for thirty years of my life? Why were we blessed with a family to pour our love into? Why did Joe choose me? Because God knew that we needed each other.
I needed him to take me to the next level—to give me a better understanding of life and death and to be grateful for the human body and experience I was born into. He gave me so much. The lessons I have learned from Joe Beckley are vast, and they’re still showing up daily.
And when I heard the lyrics for I Believe I understood why I was here for him.
We made many mistakes—In our love, our business, and in raising six kids into a blended family (yeah…candles weren’t the only thing we were blending!) But we were doing the best we could. And when we knew better, we usually did better. Some lessons were longer to learn, that’s for sure.
If I had it to do over again, what would I change? I would start with a foundation of faith. Hope looks forward; faith knows. And that’s why faith will always trump hope. God and grace came later for us; I think the earlier, the better.
I told Erin the other day that people always seem to make their loved ones into saints after they die and that I didn’t want to do that. She said, well I think it’s because you talk about all of the good times with them and the stories they told, etc. So I don’t know if making them a saint is intentional or just a side-effect. ?
And that made sense.
The early stages of grief are considered the first two years, though some say three. But I don’t think it matters. The truth is grief is forever. It becomes a part of you to carry forward. As long as you acknowledge it and respect it, it will change, if you do. And in grief time—something like this—time simultaneously moving at warp speed and in slow motion. (I can’t believe it’s been 24 months, two years. And at the same time, I’m like…wait… what? No. Not two years- he was JUST here.)
Joe gave me so much. Much more than I could see while he was still here. Only visible now in his absence. If our tears are indeed evidence of our love, then I’m grateful for every drop that falls. If the only way to avoid heartache is never to know love, then I choose the pain. His fierceness in protecting me, his eyes, smile, laugh, jokes, and hugs from those arms of steel, are beautiful things that I NEVER want to forget.
To know that the love and strength that bound us together will never die… is a gift. I may not have him physically present, but I feel him still. Joe always had my back. Even if he disagreed with me, he would defend me to his last breath over anyone—that is love. And I never once doubted it. We only got closer as time passed. I pray every day that our kids will know a love like that. When you do things for others instead of for yourself, that is when you truly shine.
Joe made me shine. I hope I made him shine too.
Looking at pictures of him reminds me of love. They remind me of what is possible. I’m not looking for love. I’m falling in love… with life.
I have never felt a stigma around his death by suicide. I’m not ashamed. I will never be ashamed. Suicide is a desperate act, not a selfish one. We need to educate ourselves and have a deeper compassion for one another.
My job now is to live. To flow with the current of my life.
I love Joe. I will always love him. And I love myself enough to know that it was not up to me to keep him alive. Our lives intersected, and I am forever grateful they did. He taught me how to love and how to live. Even in his death, he has taught me the greatest lesson of my life. And still, we are on a solo journey. We don’t get to decide each other’s fate, and how we leave this earth does not define our life. The way we live it does.
Thank you, Joe, for the experience. You were the joy of my life. May you FOREVER rest in peace.
Until we meet again… and we will meet again!
xo, and peace.
As always…thank you for reading, commenting, sharing, and your lovely messages of hope, faith, and inspiration. If what I’m writing resonates with you, let me know. Leaving a comment here on the blog is the best way to connect. This is helping me. I hope that it’s also helping you. Much love.
Call: Lifeline 1 800 273 8255 (USA Only)Text: CNQR to 741 (741 Crisis Text Line (USA Only)
I just want the pain to stop… (video)
Suicide is not a selfish act. It’s a desperate act.
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Connie Fahling says
Marie ~ Today’s blog holds truths I needed to hear, and fresh, cathartic tears fell. Thank you, again, for sharing your heart. You continue to be a tremendous blessing to me! Have you considered writing a book, or creating one from your blogs, to reach a wider audience with your and Joe’s story? You write so beautifully, and your photographic work is dynamic, lovely, gorgeous. I see them combined in book format as a much needed resource for survivors of suicide. For my part, I share your story quite often, and I posted a link to your blog and Joe’s story on my Facebook account. Like you, I do not feel a sense of shame should attend a suicide. Not at all! We need to be open and honest, on a personal level as well as a societal level, in order to effect changes that will help our loved ones get to the root of the issues that lead them to such desperation. We cannot do that with closed mouths and averted eyes. You have chosen to face this thing head on, standing strong in spite of, or perhaps because of your grief, and you are making a difference, Marie. Bravo!
With much love and a virtual hug,
Connie- I apologize for my delay in responding. I had intended to do this long before now, but it has been a tough week. Every time I walk into the shop after a long break and into ‘Joe’s shoes,’ I begin reflecting on years past. It just happens. And even though I feel pulled back a few steps, I know it is still forward movement because I’m honoring the grief by allowing it to be seen and heard. I am feeling all of it. It’s the only way I know to go through it, looking it square in the face.
Thank you! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and share what I’m writing. Not for me-I know the story-but for those who need to hear the message. We are grief illiterate-especially in regard to a death by suicide. I was too until it knocked my door down. We have so much to learn from one another.
I appreciate your kind words and your encouragement. I have not taken a book off the table or a book filled with photos and our story. I actually love the idea. I feel a responsibility to share our story to help someone else- and I know it already has. But as you said, closed lips and averted eyes will do nothing to change the stigma associated with the sexual abuse of children (especially boys-it is not talked about as it is with girls) and suicide, not to mention mental illness- depression, anxiety, and the like. There is no ‘bright-siding’ this issue. It sits heavy in the body. But we can certainly start the conversation and begin to heal… together.
Thank you again for your courage to comment and share your heart. Your words lifted me right when I needed them to. And please stay in touch.
Mary Havel says
Your words are so beautiful and so true Marie. Faith will get you through. You are right, faith trumps hope, even though sometimes a person even has to question their faith. You are such an inspiration to others. You need to write a book.
Mary… thank you! Thank you so, so much! I am thinking about a book. I truly am. Your comment came to me, like Connie’s, just when I needed it. Thank YOU for taking the time to send me a message of encouragement. I am so grateful… xo, Marie