• Taya Dunn Johnson


Today is my wedding anniversary and if my late husband were alive, we would be celebrating 14 years of marriage. Instead, this is my 7th anniversary without him. Hmmm. 7 with him alive and 7 with him dead. Beginning tomorrow, I’ll have been widowed from him longer than we were together as husband and wife. What does it all mean? Everything and nothing at the same time.

I had a paralyzing moment when our son turned 7 years old that I wrote about here. Many people on the outside tell the grieving not to focus on dates, numbers, anniversaries. I tell those people to HUSH. Most of us don’t CHOOSE to remember the specific dates and distinctive numbers, but we’re usually unable to forget.

I started thinking about the number 7 a little more. It has many meanings depending on what you choose believe. If you follow astrology, it relates directly to the number of known planets and the minerals associated with each one. In numerology, the number 7 is a sacred one that refers to wisdom. People with the number 7 in their chart are usually seekers, thinkers and searchers of the truth. They don’t take anything for face value as they are always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. Religious meanings related to the number 7 seem to reference completion and/or perfection. A spiritual perspective resonated most with me – the idea that the number 7 represents spiritual maturity acquired after a learning cycle.

Hmm, I think I like that one. A spiritual maturity acquired after a learning cycle. Well widowhood is certainly one hell of a learning cycle. Spiritual maturity. Hmmm. Have I obtained some sense of spiritual maturity? Yes, I believe I have. In a world where nuance and grey is everywhere, there are a few things that I know for sure today.

I will always love my late husband and I’m ok with that.

I’m in love again, with an amazing man who loves me deeply and completely.

My heart has the capacity to love them both, in the present.

There are times, like today, where I am clouded in absolute sadness regarding the life, love and marriage that I had. I’m saddened by the “what ifs” that MrTDJ and I never got to experience. My current love partner has allowed my love for my late husband and my memories to exist within our relationship, and for that, I will be forever grateful. I am in a place of love and joy, while still always having pain and sadness in my soul. The love that lives on in the form of eternal grief is forever present but so too is the feeling of being supremely loved. And even in the presence of a new lovemate, there are still moments when grief knocks me to my knees and the tears flow until there isn’t an ounce left.

Over this past weekend, I attended two weddings and saw a flurry of anniversary posts on social media from many friends.

I felt the love.

And the pain.

Yesterday, he and I watched the video slideshow from my wedding. Watching the girl in the photos say “I Do” and embrace the hope of “forever” was both refreshing and heartbreaking. The desire to tap her shoulder to warn her of the impending loss was strong, but I sat silently and just watched the unbridled hope and optimism on her face. It wouldn’t have been fair. She was on the road she was destined for. Had anyone warned me that my husband would die 6.5 years ago, I would still have written our story the exact same way. I’m a different woman today than I was when I married in 2004. My late husband taught me so much about love, devotion, sacrifice, vulnerability and friendship while he was living. Through his death, I’ve discovered parts of myself that hadn’t had time to mature nor reason to form. But the woman and mother that has been created through fire? The woman who has been on this spiritual journey?

Her? She’s a badass.

Happy Anniversary dear heart. May you continue to rest in peace while covering our son and I in a blanket of love and protection. Thanks for the years before and the years since. May the lessons never cease.

Taya Dunn Johnson, www.TayaDunnJohnson.com