For the past 7 years, May has been a month plagued with heartache, uneasiness, unsettledness, and regret.
- I was married in May.
- My firstborn son passed away in my arms in May.
- My husband passed away unexpectedly in May—almost exactly four years after my son.
- Mother’s Day is in May.
Without question, the month of May had become bittersweet, filled with a whirlwind of emotions. But I found myself ready to challenge the heaviness and grief head on. And so it was that on May 11—a few weeks after the seventh anniversary of our firstborn’s death, a few weeks prior to the third anniversary of my husband’s death, and the same week as my wedding anniversary—I and my son found ourselves in the country of my late husband’s birth.
Surrounded by my husband’s family, many of whom do not speak English, I learned the language of love. They spoke to me with brightly beaming eyes and plates overflowing with fish, tamales, rice and peas. They filled my belly with laughter and my hips with songs to which I danced until I became spent from joy. They loved my baby, their descendant, the physical manifestation of me and my husband’s love. They spread kindness into my broken places.
I found healing and peace there. Without question, I felt my husband’s spirit watching over us as we walked the streets of his ancestors. The family lives near the water. As I stood near the rivers flowing and twinkling in the sunlight, I realized that this trip was just what I needed: an intimate and delicate cleansing for my mind, spirit, and soul.
In life, there is an expectation that we work through pain. That we must work as quickly as we can to shake off the weight of suffering, so we can simply return to the unnecessary urgency of everyday living. I found myself exhausted and tired and sad; I did not want to continue living like this anymore. I just needed to get away from everyday living for a while. I needed time for myself.
To rest and reset.
To find myself again.
To love on myself.
To feel the sun beaming on my skin as the sweat dripped off my body—a baptism, a renewal of Ashley.
To enter into a new beginning.
When I entered 2023, I promised myself that this would be a year of saying “yes” to me. I would say “yes,” even if it hurt or was uncomfortable or scary. I had been suffocating, and I wanted to free myself from the cage that I allowed myself to be stuffed into. I promised myself that I would no longer be defined by my circumstances. I promised to no longer treat myself as a victim buckling under the oppression of negative thinking and despair. I had to teach myself that I was more than a widow. More than a loss mama. More than a mother to a son who has complex medical needs.
I am bright and smart and loving and kind. I am a warrior whose invisible scars have shaped me—molded me. My wounds and my scars have taught me how to truly love and care for others. I have survived battles that would have brought others to their knees. And yet, here I still stand, filled with hope and wonder and excitement for the future.
I am unsure of where this next season of life will take me, but I am ready and open to all possibilities. I’m willing to explore, to take unknown paths to unknown places. I promised myself that I will live life on my own terms and that I will walk in my authentic truth. I will continue to slay my demons while walking in the light. I will reclaim May as my month of celebration and love and fearlessness.
May: the month of Ashley.Leave a Comment