I mold my words into any vessel that will hold them. This is a story that must be told over and over again – in all of the permutations that release – as it carries within, the layers of change.

This is my story, because it is my voice. I am a woman who has words on her body that remind the reader: grief and joy are opposites. But for me, grief must be a verb. It must be an action, a choice, like love.

My grief finally sang loud enough for me to hear, when I picked it up and carried it alongside the peace that was left on my hands after my husband died. I was peaceful because I was no longer caring for his anger. I was peaceful because so was he, as he began a new leg of his journey yet also walked at my side. I was peaceful because it was my time. And so I grieve.

My husband, like me, channeled the most wounded of inner children. Like me and like many, he was a soul largely unseen by the wounds that brought him into this world. Like me, he at times stood tall and waved his hands high above his head to make his truth known. And like me, he startled himself with great regularity, diving under chairs, curling into balls, and covering his eyes from a world he felt could, would, did not see him.

And so we met. Two children in adult bodies. Our time was brief and abrasive and large. We raised our hands and dove for cover, sometimes in unison and perhaps more often, in passing.

He hit the wall first. Stage four cancer. “I release you,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere,” I replied.

I bit my tongue for ten months. Bit my tongue so this man whom I chose to love could surface the child within, and peel the skin from his soul.  I had been practicing patience for some time before I chose him, but those months were forever painful. My arms ached from prolongedly wrapping themselves around my knees, whole self weathering the onslaught, wrapped tight like an armadillo.

He was helped in his death, you know. And it was not metaphorical. I am writing poetry to you, but I am about to slam my hand down on the flat surface in front of you.

My husband suffered a terminal illness. He died how he lived, discontent. These are his stories, but I am holding him up to you because my voice must tell you that he chose his death. Perhaps his spirit knew its time, if you subscribe as such. But below that, he became the first person in our city on the river to receive medical assistance in his dying.  Firsts are no matter, but his death was. A first. And it mattered.

He wrapped himself around me in his dying, my husband, shadowing my armadillo curl. And then like a pool cue, his inner child propelled mine forward with a slow roll and a pocket. She had been humming in my ears for a decade, my inner, as my own birthed child grew and reached so naturally for my love.

Now I talk to two children, and walk beside a man that is no more. This kind of faith has curiously landed me in a space where I know I am helping shift and embed fact. I am not scared to tell you my story, because I know it is story telling that will bring death to life. It is story telling that will make space for choice and rich compassion and the kind of living that I know you want just as badly as I do.

What is your story? Here. Come sit down. This is the space for listening.

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