Fall has always been my favorite season, I used to think it was about hayrides, carving pumpkins, and Halloween. As an adult I know what a transitional period of letting go this is, as a child my reverence for this time of year may have come from a need to be reminded that sometimes it’s okay to let things go.
I love leaves so much that instead of birdseed, our wedding guests threw Elm leaves collected from College Green (ok, I love my alma mater, Ohio University too!) as we walked out of our ceremony. It was spectacular. Leaves, piled up in a mound waiting to be jumped in, raining down around me on my wedding day, or falling from the trees onto the street below as they are right now outside the window of my friend’s apartment in Vancouver, have always intrigued me. Appreciating the beauty of the burnt orange leaf falling, does not diminish the beauty of the green leaf in the heat of summer.
Acknowledging all of the ways that I loved Mitchell and knowing that it is now past tense is important. My grief therapist told me that romantic love involves a physical presence, one that is no longer available; that love has changed. That doesn’t take away from the magic of our love in that moment. But it is different. The past is the past for a reason and to live in that place is unhealthy and much less fun. The present moment is where I want my attention.
This has been a year of letting go for me; places, people, my car, and many beliefs I had about myself. A recurring theme of asking myself what I need and more importantly what I deserve out of this spin around the sun has persisted.
Today, October 19th, is what would have been my and Mitchell’s 4th wedding anniversary and I want to honor him and our relationship for what it was. And in honoring the past tense of that, allowing myself to ease into the present moment and my future more. Writing these memories down so I know they won’t be forgotten gives me the peace to let go. I realize I can’t live my life hiding behind our relationship and my widowhood. I acknowledge my emotions and let go to make room for more magic.
I started writing down the things I loved about Mitchell the night he went missing. I was laying in a hotel room hugging a pillow swirling in thoughts of “this isn’t real” “this can’t be happening” “where is he” “where are you” “I need you” “I love you”. There was a La Quinta pad of paper on the nightstand and I just started writing down things that I loved about him. And I didn’t stop. During the never-ending groundhog days that followed at The Lake “looking for him”, which usually meant trying to stay out of the way of the officials, I would think of something that I loved about him and write it down. I did this for a few months when something would make me think of him. It made me feel better writing them down. Like I was afraid I would forget them the longer time that he was gone. I wrote them down, but I’ve never gone back and reread them. I have no idea what grief-stricken Maranda missed about Mitch the most, but I’m about to find out. This is unedited and word for word, fear no longer holds me back, it’s time.
I just looked and realized that I addressed the first one to him. Like it was a love letter for when we found him…..
Mitchell, How many ways do I love you? I love your full-on-having-a-blast-blissfully happy-smile. I love how kind you are and eager to help. I love what a hard worker you are. I love when we challenge ourselves together and do things neither of us thought we could. I love when you squeeze me so hard I might break. I love when you do that funny purr thing that always makes me laugh. I love your laugh. I love how much you love our family and friends. I love when you reach over and hold your fingers on my shoulder as our secret “your mine” pose. I love kissing you. I love holding hands with our pinkies crossed. I love you. I love how funny you are. I love watching you sing karaoke. I love how we share everything- especially when we eat out of the same bowl. I love that we think it’s normal to poop, but not wipe, in front of each other. I love when we’re in the shower with our chests pushed together and you pull us apart super quick so the water splashes on the shower floor and we laugh and laugh. I love that time we both forgot the tent poles and slept with the air mattress in the bed of the 7.3 [pickup truck] under the stars. I loved riding bikes to Giant Eagle in Ashtabula and everyone thought we were poor. I love that time we drove to Tennessee without GPS and used a legit map- rough. I love how much we both love blown glass and can’t get enough Chihuly. I love when you ask me to dance. I love that you can watch Miracle on repeat. I love how good looking we are. I love that the day before you left me you looked at me and said, “God, our lives are amazing” and gave me a big kiss. I love that I got to be your prom date, even though it was in our 20s. I love walking with you- holding hands, laughing, just loving life. I love how you can always make me laugh. I love going on our wild goose hunt for the Vitruvian Man- damn Italians. I love how you take care of me. I love being your wife. I love how passionate you are about wine and grapes. I love how you love history. I love how you love me. I love how handsome you are. I love how you try and try until you get it- everything. I love how you can fix anything. I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you. I love how you loved to watch the incense smoke follow our energy. I love when you dip me. I love how both of our favorite books is Jane Eyre. I love our friends and how much we all love and support each other. I love the Buffalo Express and how we met. I love that you took me to fucking Applebees on our first date and ordered a god-damn Mountain Dew. I love that orange is both of our favorite colors. I love how much you hate that I watch The Real Housewives. I love my engagement ring- thank you for giving it to me and asking me to be your wife and spend the rest of our lives together. I love how you said it was unique and beautiful like me- you’re so amazing. I love how you always take Indie’s cage out, I appreciate that and you so much. I love how you fit in with our lake friends- you became one of us so quickly. I love how all of our best friends ended up on our first date. I love how we don’t flush the toilet until we’ve both gone. I love how we put baking soda on each other’s toothbrushes for the other. I love how we always get ready for bed together. I love that we both said “I love having sex with you” after every time we made love. I love that winter I stayed at your parent’s house and we slept with our noses touching every night. I love how the first time I saw you actually had lint in your belly button and I couldn’t stop laughing because I didn’t know that actually happened to people- ewww! I love that ugly face you make that always makes me smile. I love when you’re hot and you take your shoes off and your feet leave steam outlines on the wood floor. I love that night in Ashtabula when you opened the window and went all dad on those trashy people fighting right outside with, “Can I help you?”; and stood there until they walked away. I love watching Indie yawn, hop, and stretch with you, we would laugh forever at that.
I love the bottom of your feet. I love the time you fell asleep during Shavasana. I love how much you enjoy scotch, whiskey, and bourbon. I love how much you hate AC/DC. I love how unlikely we are as a couple and how happy we are. I love how perfect you are. I love how much everyone loves you. I love our matching tattoos. I love how adventurous you are. I love what an expert fire starter you are. I love how much you love that fucking cow, Rita. I love how much pride you take in everything you do. I love your eyes. I love how much you love playing like/with kids. I love what a daddy’s boy you are. I love waking up on Sunday mornings with you at home and making Carpe Diem’s house blend, your favorite. I love how much you love the farm. I love how much you love working at Grapes. I love how much everyone wants to be around you because you’re THAT amazing. I love how much fun you are. I love falling asleep with my head on your chest, legs over yours, and wrapped in your arms. I love how much you love your friends. I loved skiing behind the 4-wheeler that one winter- we’re so goofy. I loved surprising you with your grandpa’s car to drive away in after the wedding. I love meditating with you. I loved saying I love you for the first time as I was leaving to go back to OU to start my senior year. I love you so much. I loved kissing the Blarney Stone and seeing the Cliffs of Moher with you. I loved going to Chicago with you and going to the Christkindlmarket. I love how we always shop local. I love doing the drum circle with you. I’m so proud of you for you SCUBA certification. It was great getting to dive with you. I love to hate how much you love Mountain Dew. I love how good you are with your hands. I love that you picked out our first dance song and surprised me. I love running/exploring with you. I love what a good role model you are. I love how you knew you wanted to marry me so soon. I love watching fireworks with you. I love how cute and nervous you were when you proposed. I loved waking up on those white sheets in the morning sun in utter bliss the next morning. I loved going to the Corvette Museum with you and how much you loved seeing all the cars. I love our affirmations. I love how you would have incense lit in our apartment all the time if you could. I loved you teaching me how to drive stick around the Ashtabula Mall. I love your patience. I love rubbing the bottoms of our feet together. I love how much you love pancakes. I love how much fun you and Cassie have together. I love everything about your proposal. I love how much you loved Ireland. I love how romantic and peaceful our honeymoon was. I love road trips with you. I love how we can sing along with all the old country songs together. I love that we always high-fived during that one part in the Friends theme song. I love sitting on the couch watching tv and cuddling. I love sneaking Taggarts into The Palace Sunday Matinee with you. I love how you taught me how to lane swim. I love meditating and doing yoga together. I love how my grandma loves you more. I love that the last story you ever told me was about your grandpa teaching you to drive the tractor on your 7th birthday. I love listening to music and making dinner with you. I love all our friends and fun downtown. I love doing flags with you. I love our perfect first Christmas married. I love how amazing, perfect, and beautiful our wedding was. I love traveling with you. I love every photo we’ve ever taken. I love our Buns. I love that our first big kid jobs were at the same place. I love celebrating the Whiskey Light with everyone and how much you love those cherries. I love how giving you are. I love how pissed you would get at George’s when, for whatever reason, we couldn’t get burgers late-night. I loved it when you bitched out that lady and tossed your hair at her, “It was NOT five minutes!” That was great.
I love that day we were both sick and sat in the bathroom with the shower, humidifier, and incense because it was -15 outside hiding from the world. I love the fort we made on our bed. I love how you always make popcorn in the Whirley pop perfectly- better than I ever can. I love when we were in the shower and we would “wash” our butts by rubbing them together and push our chests together until we had a bunch of water and then pull away and giggle when it all splashed on the ground 🙂 I love how silly you are.
That’s it. I must have realized I told the same weirdo, silly story about us in the shower and I stopped writing.
I’m so happy I wrote this very real, funny, inside joke-filled, raw piece that
is was our relationship in miniature. This was “us”. In transferring it from the La Quinta post-it notes to a piece published forever allows me to know it’s not going anywhere and release some of the power it has held over me.
This original love letter is the green leaf of our relationship; this post, the burnt orange and red leaf floating safe and sound through the air. Both beautiful in their own ways, just different. Appreciate the seasons of your life, without the changing of seasons we would never be able to fully appreciate them for what they are. And appreciate I intend to do, gratitude is the secret to joy. Change is scary sometimes, good most of the time, and amazing occasionally.
So much letting go for me this fall, and it’s a good thing! Letting go can be hard, but focusing on the amazing, fan-tabulous love, joy, and freedom that will fill in the space (and yes it will, I promise) helps. I’ll end with one of my current affirmations:
I am open to receive all the beautiful love that is offered to me from the Divine. And so it was.