5 PM at the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport was the last time I saw him; less than eight hours later he was gone. My heart stopped for a moment on the flight home when I realized that I’d be in the exact same place, on the exact same date, exactly one year later. But as I started to plan my escape route from the airport in an effort to exit as quickly as possible, I changed my mind. No, I told myself, I am finally ready.
I believe the universe is constantly conspiring to create chances to right past mistakes, put into practice lessons that we’ve learned, and present opportunities for growth. Today at the airport was going to be one of those rare moments in time when everything comes together in a way that’s so symbolic, it can’t possibly be a coincidence. I decided on the plane ride that this meant I’d have to lean into the pain. Instead of avoiding this site like I have ever since, I needed to embrace it with my whole heart.
The seats across from the C Gate security are where we sat, clinging onto our last few minutes together. Maybe on some level our bodies knew those would be the last few minutes they’d ever share, so breaking apart was even more difficult than usual. I replayed those last few minutes in my head on a loop as the plane landed. Go to the seats, my heart told me. So I did.
Now I’m here, in the exact same seat, on the exact same date, exactly one year later. I feel the weight of an entire year of struggle, but the lift of an entire year of discovery. The full days in bed, the inability to eat, the fear of meeting someone new, they all feel like distant memories. In this seat I feel completely in control for the first time all year.
I thought sitting here would usher in a flood of tears, but surprisingly, I'm writing this through dry eyes. It's not that there's an absence of sadness, but rather an overwhelming sense of calm that steadies my heart. Calm. Of all the adjectives I've used to describe how I've felt throughout this year, calm is definitely a new one. But I am so calm to my core that it feels like I've never known anything besides this feeling.
So here it is: full circle. One year to this date since I thought nothing in this world could ever be as good again. One year to this date that I thought life wouldn't go on, that I'd always be alone, and that I'd never truly be myself again. It's been a whole year in the making, but I made it. But not only have I made it, I've also come out on the other side stronger and with an even greater capacity to love.