Two Years.

No matter how much my head tries to prepare for the day, my heart knows what it means and feels the full weight.

April 16, 2016.

Two years ago everything changed. Two years ago today three cars took me from a wife to a widow. Two years ago today I left the movies with my husband and ended that typical Saturday with the need to bury that beautiful man a week later.

The lights. The crowd. The trooper walking me to the backseat of the cruiser. “Ma’am, I’m sorry…”

I didn’t understand what he told me.

Rasheed had literally gone to the store for candy. The strongest guy I knew went to the store for his favorite snack, laughing as he closed our front door that he’d return shortly just like he did countless times before.

I still see those cheekbones and that smile as he turned to walk away.

I didn’t understand.

I called my good friend as the trooper was talking to me because I told her I needed someone to help me understand what this man was trying to tell me.

An Army Ranger friend of mine plainly told me months after Rasheed’s death that I was experiencing PTSD. I didn’t think I deserved to be in the same category of America’s heroes, but he explained my body had lived through its own war in those horrific moments that night.

Two years ago today I left the movies with my husband and ended that typical Saturday with the need to bury that beautiful man a week later.

I didn’t think I’d survive two days with the physical pain my heart felt after Rasheed’s death; his murder.

I didn’t think I’d survive two days – let alone two years. However, here I am. Living. Breathing. Starting to thrive in some random moments.

I will always make sure the world knows about that amazing man. My work on the scholarships and prizes in his name are the beginning proof. We shared so many beautiful days together. I now focus on sharing love and light on his birthday and our anniversary.

But today?

Today I need to just breathe.

This day two years ago was not a good day.

The pain is still there and pops up unexpectedly and inconveniently. I regularly fight hard to forget those hours and the crime scene that my mind will never let go of. My memories sometimes wander to that horrible night when the old me died with my husband and I made the worst two phone calls of my life: to my parents and to Rasheed’s.

I didn’t understand.

I still don’t, but I know sometimes we’re not meant to know the full picture – at least not for a while. And sometimes we must keep pressing, keep doing the hard work of living, breathing, and loving while in pain. Rasheed loved me with a love I didn’t think was possible, but because he did I am able to tap into it and sprout a new me and share it with the world in new ways. The only reason I am still alive today is because I’ve learned to live in the love we shared, share. I will always love and miss that man, however, I’ve felt his presence countless times in the last 730 days. He and God have guided me, protected me, brought me blessings & closed doors that would have meant me harm. I’ve fought for him in ways I didn’t think I could: taking out billboards looking for the cowardly killers who fled the scene that night. I’m fighting for a hit and run alert system. I’m working with & for widows’ rights. And then there’s the work I’ve done on myself. That work has been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done: fought to live when I really didn’t want to.

I am proof that a broken heart can still beat and still help heal others.

In your darkest moments- when you pray to allow God to let you give up but He doesn’t – trust you still have work to do here.

Two years out, I’m learning I still do.

Miss you, babe.

2 thoughts on “Two Years.

  1. Jeanie Coolahan says:

    Michelle, first of all you have my sincere sympathy in the loss of your beloved husband. The depth of your love for him comes through in your writings. You are a strong woman, and will get stronger each day. I am sure that Rasheed is right by your side in Spirit, and will never let you be alone in this world. Take care…..Jeanie Coolahan, Georgetown, DE

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