Widowhood is a heart-stabbing, gut-wrenching pain I wouldn’t wish on anyone. We are coming up on one year since Caleb’s passing. My sweet, strong, protective, handsome Caleb. The love of my life.
It is because of Caleb that Sacred Unraveling even exists. He is the one who encouraged me that my writing was worth reading.
Caleb saved my life. When we met, I was just coming out of a messy divorce. I thought I was unlovable and I truly wanted to die. Caleb showed me what true love is, long before it was romantic. One particularly dark day when the urges to end my life were almost overwhelming, Caleb took me for a walk along the boardwalk at the downtown waterfront where he told me stories and spoon fed me chocolate ice cream. He pointed out boats and the sparkling waves and complained about the noisy seagulls. Boy, he hated those seagulls. Caleb kept me alive that day.
When Caleb expressed interest in a romantic relationship, I was terrified. All my walls were still up and I was afraid of getting hurt again. He said he wanted to “be a team, and be that one person for each other who you always know has your back.” Risking my heart to love again was worth it one thousand times over. Caleb fiercely protected my heart and gently healed it, and he definitely always had my back. Loving someone with PTSD is challenging, because every day you have to contend with trauma you didn’t cause. It can be complicated and messy and confusing and painful. Caleb was patient through my insecurities and my meltdowns and my lashing out as a lifetime of trauma bubbled to the surface and together we wrestled it to the ground, piece by piece. Finally I was safe enough to begin examining the broken parts of me and building something new with them. Caleb would hold me for hours, stroking my face and hair as I cried and asked him over and over again if he would always love me and never leave me. Caleb promised to love me for the rest of my life. I am still alive, and I still have his love.
I believe Caleb is alive too. His body isn’t anymore, but he is. I feel him. He has visited me multiple times through intensely powerful mystical encounters that the church stubbornly refuses to acknowledge can happen sometimes. When Caleb walked the earth with me, strangers would stop us somewhat regularly to tell us they could feel our love radiating from across the street, or that the sight of us brought them joy, or that they saw a kind of deep happiness in us that was rare. “Hold onto that forever”, they said. I always suspected something was different about us. There was a magic between us that seemed foreign to most averagely happy couples. I believe his visits after death prove that even more. We belong to each other. We are eternally one.
At Caleb’s funeral, I altered our wedding vows that I would have declared to him just a few months later at a little meadow in the mountains, surrounded by our family and closest friends. But that day, standing on a stage for a reason I never imagined, I vowed to keep my love alive for him every day, to honor him and share his story. I vowed that wherever I go, people will know his name. I vowed to carry on his work, love the people he loved, and be his legacy.
I’ll be sharing bits of Caleb’s story here at Sacred Unraveling. Loving Caleb was the epitome of finding sacredness. Being loved by Caleb was a beautiful unraveling of pain and knitting it into something holy. Our union might not mirror what the church would have prescribed for us, but it is where I found divinity.