They say the first year of marriage is the hardest. When Gideon and I got married on New Yearís Eve last year, I was convinced weíd beat those odds. I was determined to have the best first year of marriage anybody has ever had. Famous last words, right?
To be fair, 2016 was a pretty great year for us. We got engaged, I got promoted, Gideon started graduate school and we became friends with Melody Rust, who worked at Lovely County Citizen with me. It didnít take long for Melody and me to become very close. We clicked in a way you canít describe. It was rare.
Iíve got this problem where I love people too hard. I make friends for life, and it doesnít matter if they feel the same way. Often that means I suffocate people or push them away. But Melody loved me with the exact same intensity I loved her. She cared deeply for her loved ones, and I knew weíd be friends forever from the first time she hugged me. So when we lost her on Thanksgiving, I lost a bit of myself.
It didnít help that Gideon and I have been running ragged over the past year. Heís been taking graduate school courses online, working full-time and student teaching at Eureka Springs High School. Iíve been working as hard as I usually do, which is probably more than I should. I canít help it. I put all this pressure on myself. Burning out is a real fear, but it doesnít slow me down. In fact, I didnít slow down until Melody left us. That was out of necessity. I was dying inside.
Over the past few weeks, Gideon has finished up school for the semester and Iím winding down at the paper. Weíre getting ready to spend a week on the beach in Alabama, on the week that happens to coincide with our one-year wedding anniversary.
This past year has been very hard for us, so Iím happy to start the new year with our family overlooking the ocean. Iím happy to travel and explore. Itís an adventure, the kind Melody would have loved. She once told me she dreamed of buying an RV and traveling the country, stopping at all the national parks and visiting places sheíd never been. Her spirit encourages me to keep seeing life as an adventure, even if that means living without her, one of the few people who kept a piece of my heart.
Gideon and I have to move forward. We have to keep living. Next year, heíll finish up his masterís degree and will hopefully begin teaching at a local high school. I remember telling Melody when he finished up his first year of graduate school in May. She smiled so big. She was so proud of him, almost as proud as I was. I know sheíd be just as proud today if I could tell her how close he is to getting his degree.
Life doesnít stop moving for anyone or anything. Thatís become painfully clear to me over the past month. My knee-jerk reaction is to isolate myself, to marinate in sadness until thatís all I can feel. I wonít do that, though. I canít do that. I want to see the good in the world the way Melody did, and Iím going to start now.
In 2018 and every year from now on, I vow to tell those I love exactly how I feel about them, go on adventures regularly and laugh as much as I can. Iíll do that because itís what Melody did. If I have to live without her, I can at least live to honor her.