One year ago…
One year ago my wife Shannon’s journey through cancer and hospice ended.
One year ago death came and claimed her.
One year ago You welcomed her home.
One year ago I lay next to her still body, weeping over the loss of a woman I loved so much.
One year ago I stood by as the mortician carried her small, frail body out the door.
One year ago my life without Shannon began.
One year ago.
Twelve years ago, that day in February 2004, my grieving began. On each step of the cancer journey, as Shannon’s health faded in and out, I grieved the loss of things Shannon and I so enjoyed.
Two years ago Shannon’s health was on an upswing, the chemo held the cancer in check. We had an amazing summer of long walks, vacation, and time together. We (unrealistically) talked of where we’d live when we retired.
One year ago last September, in one doctor’s visit, we went from being one good chemo away from kicking the cancer aside to entering hospice and waiting for the end.
One year ago.
For one year I’ve had to learn what life looks like without Shannon Marie Reuss. I have had to learn what it means for Pete Reuss to grieve (learning that we all grieve differently). It hasn’t meant sitting on my own and feeling sorry for myself. It hasn’t meant long nights of tears. It has meant living life to the fullest. It has meant doing exactly what Shannon told me to do, “Don’t pine away for me. I won’t be with you anymore. Go live your life.” In this year I unexpectedly fell in love and asked Danielle to marry me. In this year I have brought a partner on to Shannon’s business and moved it forward in exciting ways. In this year I have lived focused on the life that You lay out before me.
For me, grieving has meant finding time to intentionally pause to reflect and remember. It has meant keeping a blog as a way to process my thoughts. It has meant weeping during worship services as we sing about the host of heaven gathered around Your throne…a host Shannon now sings with. It has meant telling stories of Shannon on a regular basis. It has meant speaking to groups about the way that I’ve walked this journey of grief, a journey which began with my mother Edee in 1979 and continues through today.
God, one year ago my life changed. You carried Shannon into Your loving arms. In this year you have surrounded me with your love. Some days have been rough. Many days have been just fine.
One year ago. Today I pause to remember the life of a woman who meant so much to me. I’ll go for a walk in the woods, just like I did on this day last year. I’ll walk alone with my memories. Tears will well up.
God, one year ago. It’s hard to believe. Thank you for joining me on this journey.