I am so appreciative to all of those who have read my writings and shared them with others this last year. It means the world to me to hear that this work is helping others, that is why I do it. The pain of losing a loved one is unimaginable until you go through it, yet everyone will experience it in their life. My hope is that I can provide a bit of hope, a bit of direction, to those in need so that the path is a little less confusing and the beauty is a little more accessible.
The first year is the hardest. The first birthday, the holidays, the anniversary, the engagement day, and all of those special moments between us that I had to face without her for the first time. We should have been celebrating these together, but now they feel empty, different, haunting in a way.
On May 6th, 2021, we got engaged in perhaps the happiest moment of my life, maybe her’s too. We couldn’t wait to tell everyone, show off her new ring, and be showered in excitement by friends and family. On May 6th, 2022, I brought the ring back to the spot I proposed and wept, in disbelief that it was all gone.
On July 22nd, 2021, we celebrated her 40th birthday with a big party, music, dancers, presents, food, and all of her friends and family. She was so happy. It was almost like a trial run for our wedding. On July 22nd, 2022, I went to a yoga class that she used to teach, now being taught by one of her students. There is an alter for her at the studio. After class I sat alone, talking to her, remembering what it was like to see her sitting there, teaching classes for all those years. Her little jokes, her loving energy, her smile, her voice.
In October 2021, we were discussing wedding dates and venues. She wanted to get married in Hawaii by a waterfall. At our 9th anniversary of the yoga studio, she was coming out as an artist, sharing her butterfly paintings, as her first step towards following her passion for painting. In October 2022, at our 10-year anniversary party, I spoke to our community and gave a teary-eyed account of the impact Karina had at the studio over the last decade.
I honestly can’t remember Thanksgiving 2021. It was around the time Karina got her diagnosis and my world had shattered. The only glimpses I have from that whole month were some very intense and profound moments, the most special being the time we wrote her message to the public about her situation, when I saw her true inner strength shine through a weakened body. Thanksgiving 2022 was spent quietly with my dad and brother. We discussed the trials of dating and updated our Hinge profiles, still in disbelief at how things had changed.
On Christmas, 2021, Karina was in the hospital but on the road to recovery. She could speak, she could walk, and everything was pointing in the right direction. The doctors were astounded by her progress. She had a room full of gifts, her family all came to the parking lot so she could see them out the window, and we were able to sneak our dog Raja in at night to see her for the first time in a month. We were so happy for a moment. On Christmas 2022, I cried most of the day. Remembering that hope we had last year, though short-lived it was, I was so grateful for the moment of relief from the intensity of the downward trajectory, that she actually got to enjoy Christmas day.
On January 1st, 2022, I sat in a garden outside of the hospital reading teachings from the buddha. Days away from bringing her home, I was full of optimism. I was sure 2022 would be a year of recovery for her, and I couldn’t wait for her to be strong enough to tell her story and inspire the world. January 1, 2023, I awoke alone but inspired for a new year. I felt happy with so many things in my life and so grateful for all of the pain and sadness of the previous year. Because that pain was only a reflection of the love that we had, and all of the happy moments that we shared in our seven years together.
This year has been full of ups and downs, and I’ve grown so much along the way, but I have one big ‘first’ day left in front of me. February 13th, the day of her transition. I plan to face it with vulnerability, as I have on each of these days, in order to reclaim the energy of this experience. This will be a hard one, being present with these moments always is. But it is worth it. Collecting, not forgetting. Feeling, not ignoring. Growing, not shrinking.
This experience, from her diagnosis to her transition, was a catalyst in my life to see things from a higher perspective, to understand impermanence on a heart level, and to enjoy each fleeting moment for the blessing that it is. Because that’s what she wants for me. I know this because she told me.
She once said, “I am not afraid to die, I am only afraid of what my death will do to those that I love. You have to be okay without me.” She said this years ago, that was the sort of person Karina was.
And I promised her, on the night that she left her body, that I wouldn’t let her death destroy my life, but make it more expansive. That I would carry forward her message of love and share it for her. That she can still do her work through me.
That is what this is. She always loved my writing and encouraged me to share it more. She would be proud of this blog, and my plans for the future.
She wouldn’t want me to wallow in sadness. She wants me to have what I want in life. She wants me to make a difference in the world. She wants me to find love and experience all of the things we planned to do together. I know, because she told me. And I can feel her now, guiding me forward along this path.
I was gifted with an experience too grand not to share. I have a team of angels now, whispering over my shoulder the wisdoms of life. In a recent channeling session Karina described herself as my “ghostwriter.” I laughed so hard I cried. I wish I was clever enough to come up with that, but that was her wit, not mine. A moment that she affirmed she is still with me, on my team, encouraging me forward. I just need to “get out of my own way” so that I can allow her wisdom to come through me.
Stepping into 2023, I am committed to following that guidance without fear. I am committed to using these traumatic experiences as a catalyst for greatness. I’m committed to making her proud, my mom proud, as I promised I would. At the moment, my work is expressed through this blog and my instagram account. But this is just the first step.
I am turning this work into a book.
This blog will serve pieces of inspiration, experiences as I continue along this journey, and pieces of the book as it comes together.
I don’t know what is to come, but I am excited to find out. Excitement feels good. It is much better than dread. It took a lot of work, a lot of tears, to feel this way. But that work doesn’t stop after the first year, it continues forever. That is kind of the point.
Thank you all so much, and I wish you a bright 2023. Whatever this year may bring, let it be expansive and joyous. Forever onwards and upwards!
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