The video above is from a recent musical I went to see "If/Then" about a woman in her late thirties who has two paths she could follow. The play takes us on her journey ... if she picks one path/then … or if she picks another /then. Either decision leads her to amazing victories but also tremendous loss...and this song captures it well. This is a touching and amazing musical and I would strongly recommend listening to the whole soundtrack! And yes-this is a widow song and yes it applies to me!
I haven’t blogged the past few years. Not because of a lack of desire but a lack of ability. I needed to turn inward and the reality is I am/was just plain pissed off! Over two and half years ago, I sat in the same chair I sit now. In seconds, my life changed forever. Everything I knew disappeared. It doesn't take much to see the moment vividly. I try to quickly push it away as I do with the weeks that followed. Not because it doesn't resurrect itself frequently, but because I refuse to have 14 + years memorialized in a trauma and I don't want pity. Yes, so many rallied and there were so many beautiful moments, but in the end, we were watching my love die. In 5 weeks time, my precious Candice left me and that doesn't fast disappear. I fight these profoundly devastating moments so that I may remember Candice. Her sickness didn't rob my memories (so frequently flooding my mind and thoughts), but it stole a life which profoundly impacted my whole being. I can describe in great detail the moments that led up to my calling 911 because Candice was having a stroke (even at her insistence that she was fine). When the two men arrived, I found myself being grabbed by one of these compassionate men hugging me, holding me up as I collapsed in grief that my wife was having a stroke...while the other focused on Candice (prepping her to get in the ambulance). I wish I didn't remember every second so clearly. I wish I didn't see her fearful denying eyes. I would do anything to erase the pain of the following five weeks and trauma. We had no time to think, reflect or hurt about the complete injustice that Candice was enduring. I hate that I couldn't save her, I could only show my love, show my dedication, show my pride. God knows I loved her more than I loved myself. I would have chosen and still would choose to switch places with her. But we didn't get that option. So I have had to try to learn to live for the both of us. It has embodied moments of redemption, laughter, hope, anger, depression, anxiety , and most importantly love. We have two options when life hands us a shitty card...we can hold anger/hate or we can hug the love out of our loss (because that is exactly what loss is- a successful execution of loving something you now no longer have). My only option was to thrust toward finding love because Candice guided me that direction.
This has been a rough process. Shifting emotions, relationships and priorities. We all lose and must grieve. However, if we allow/force ourselves, we open ourselves to the possibility that we can survive and we are worthy of love and we continue to seek hope. Through this process, we might just be given a second chance to appreciate all that life has to offer and an ability to start again.
Candice J. Costa- not much goes on in my life where I don't think of you, talk to you. I always love you- you gave me the gift of having an open heart and you taught me that we must always choose love. You sent me many angels to help me survive these past few years. Yes there may be some "If/Then" moments, but ultimately I met Sarah and when our eyes met across a room at the same exact moment, we connected. She has been steadfast and loving; most importantly stood by me in terrible grief. She asked me to marry her and I had much resistance. How could I marry another? The guilt! But I love this girl - she is open, transparent, family oriented, loving and so very patient. No - she is not Candice, but she is as loyal and loving in different ways and she has taught me to love again and for this, I am so grateful.
To love another after a great love is hard to explain. What I do know is that this love does not replace the love of those who pass. My heart has expanded and the new love holds up hope for a future of more....
I have not been open to sharing that Candice and I were trying to start a family. However I am sharing this now because this was very much front and center in our lives before Candice got sick. I often think about what an amazing parental team we would have been. If I am fortunate enough to have a family with Sarah, I know that Candice will be there in spirit raising our collective family. Whether we are physically here or not, loved ones shape our future and we don't always get to witness our successes in the next generation-but they exist.
I will be marrying Sarah Shoemaker at the end of August in a small private ceremony on Long Point (weather providing) in Provincetown. This is a very special place for the LGBTQ community and was near and dear to Candice and I. We shared many wonderful moments there with our family and by ourselves. I know that this day will mostly be a joyous occasion. But like most days I live, I will be thinking of Candice. I am sure I will be thinking of my first wedding day (and one that I thought would have been my only). It is a difficult dichotomy for me and I often feel like a polygamist. I am sure Candice will be watching and like me feel sadness but also happiness for me and of course she would find the humor too.