I am in the midst of my greatest winter…a time that will change me from the very core of my being. I am being strengthened and renewed. This time is necessary. There is a purpose to winter. Underneath the proverbial storms, ice, and snow, I hold on to the promise that winter is but a season and that I will soon experience my greatest spring.
Jaime Hilton, October 8, 2012
The words above are from Jaime’s blog, written a little less than two months before her “greatest spring” began. Although I always am thinking about and missing Jaime, this week her loss has been particularly noticeable. It isn’t because there is a special anniversary we had, or even because this week is Easter. I have found myself unable to get to sleep and/or waking up in the middle of the night just staring at the ceiling, saying to myself how I wish she were beside me – wishing I could reach out and hold on to her for just a few moments. When I realize all I have now is a bed to myself, and a few extra pillows, I accept the painful reality and I fall back asleep. Last week, I began to rethink my plan about when I would go and do the final request Jaime asked of me – to scatter her ashes. My original thought was that I would wait until closer to our wedding anniversary, May 14. However, with the possibility of a job opening up out of state, I didn’t want to have to rush something that I knew would not be easy to do. So, last week, I decided that Felicity and I would both go to Siesta Key (Sarasota) and do as Jaime asked. I originally was just going to go alone. However, the more I thought about it, the more I knew that one day, Felicity would be old enough to understand and would be grateful I had included her in honoring her mother’s final request.
Siesta Key is a beautiful beach in Sarasota (FL). If you have ever been there, you know of the cool, pure, white sandy beaches and the almost bath-like temperature of the water from the Gulf of Mexico. Before Felicity arrived, Jaime and I would escape to Siesta Key on the weekends and during breaks just to have “us” time. We would sit on the beach and talk about one day retiring and owning a home in Sarasota, on the water, just so we could come back as much as we wanted. The last time we came as a family was the spring of 2010 – when Felicity was just a few months old. We never came back…until Felicity and I went today.
Today was beautiful. Felicity and I walked towards an area where very few people were near the water. I said a silent prayer and I did as my Jaime asked. We walked away from that area and Felicity and I played in the sand for a while before visiting some of the stores Jaime and I used to enjoy. As we walked away from the water, I turned and a part of my heart hurt. It was very similar to how I felt as I walked to the car in the early morning hours after Jaime had died. I remember just standing there – looking back towards where Jaime’s room was at the hospice, thinking, “Should I be leaving her? The light in her room is still on.” Of course, Jaime wasn’t in that room any more than she was on the beaches of Siesta Key today. After putting Felicity to bed tonight, I sat and thought about my empty feeling about today. Scattering Jaime’s ashes was difficult, but nowhere near as painful as seeing what I saw, hearing what I heard, and watching the woman I love slip away. No, the slight twinge of hurt is because I see and know that the final pages of our “Florida” story are being written. Very soon, this story will have a final punctuation mark and the page will turn to the next narrative of our journey. That is as exciting as it is sobering. Change is inevitable. It is a natural part of every aspect of life. Even Jaime understood this. As much as she loathed the winter and its bitter cold, she understood that something was taking place behind the visible darkness of a season. Preparations were underway for a beautiful explosion of life and newness. How fitting Felicity and I were able to fulfill Jaime’s final wish in the spring – on a beautiful, sunny day that Jaime would have loved. What am I saying? Her spring began months ago! Yes, this “Florida” story is nearing its conclusion. What a story it has been! Jaime and I arrived excited – unaware of how this journey would change us and where it would lead. A beautiful gift named Felicity joined us and brought “intense happiness” during times of intense stress – manmade and just plain old life! And yes, pain, hurt, sickness, and death are part of the story too. But how does this “Florida” story end? Just as it did this beautiful day – Felicity and I turned and we walked away together, having honored the one we miss and love, and hopeful of the journey ahead.