On September 11th, I woke up sorrowful along with the rest of the country as I remembered the horrific 9/11 attacks 17 years prior. I was unaware that morning, that I would be hearing the four words that are forever marked in my memory. As I heard a loud knock at the door at The Recovery Connection home, I was met by a police officer, along with my mother, whose expressions concerned me. Within moments, before I could put any thoughts together, he said those 4 words: “your husband passed away.”
My legs gave out and I collapsed. I remember shouting over and over, “no he didn’t,” as my mom held me tight. It was in this moment that my life was divided into two parts: before this and after this. I am forever changed, as I am beginning to understand that the journey of grief has no ending. There is no magic day or time where the pain disappears. I think about my husband all day, every day. I miss him with every fiber of my being. I miss the life we were supposed to have together, the life our children were supposed to have with their daddy, and the beautiful memories that were yet to be created.
But here I am now with only memories, experiences of connection, intimacy, and love. I do not reminisce on money earned, success achieved, cars purchased, gifts given. Those things didn’t buy my memories. Connection gifted me with the most precious moments that I am blessed to hold onto from now until forever. I think about the times where he and I would sit on the couch after the kids had gone to bed, and his total sarcastic, witty humor would have me grinning ear to ear. I think about the times where we would just drive around on our date nights since we ate so fast at dinner, that we wanted more time together before returning home to our beautiful babies. I think about times where we talk about life and growing old. These are the moments that matter in life.
I have always known that the relationships we have in recovery and in life are what matter, but these last 5 months have enforced this belief in the most raw, harsh way. It also reminds me on a daily basis that my mission in life is on proper course, by helping others to recover from addiction and learn how to truly connect, for relationships (with others, with ourselves, with God and with the world around us) are what make life worth living.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t experience deep sadness, anger and pain through losing Danny. But even though it was his time to head up there, I believe that my soul has some work to do down here before I get to meet him at those pearly white gates. And when that day does come, I want him to say, “good job baby,” with his infectious, charming smile. He left me with a fire in my soul and a story that needs to be told. And today, I carry on in honor of his amazing spirit.
Written by: Julie Funkhouser, Co-Founder & CEO of The Recovery Connection