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His Cowboy Boots

In the past twenty-five years, if you ever saw Pete dressed up, it was probably at church, in a collared shirt and jeans, and he probably was wearing his cowboy boots.

I also have a lot of memories associated with those cowboy boots, which include his first Garth Brooks concert, Flying W Ranch with friends, and when I got him to go line-dancing with me, which wasn’t very often.

Pete also had two summers where he worked as a cowboy at the ranch I took him to for his 49th birthday, just six weeks before his diagnosis.  

I told my youngest, who’s 20, that those were the reasons why I was heartbroken when I couldn’t find them.  Her response was that it didn’t have to be any of that and that it was understandable if it was just because they belonged to him.

Nevertheless, I had a big emotional day Sunday when I couldn’t find them. We had organized everything after our move except for three boxes that were in our living space.  We also have several tubs from our storage closet in the last apartment but I was sure they weren’t in there. 

I’d gone a few weeks thinking about them but knowing in my mind that they were somewhere.  Then, on Sunday, I had to find them. I panicked while I rummaged through the tubs from the storage closet. 

I had also told myself that things would be okay, even if I hadn’t found them, that I didn’t need to be so attached.  Then, I became a lot more frantic and started to cry.  Instead of fighting the overwhelm anymore, I let the tears come over me.  I didn’t hold my breath or stifle my nose running.  I just let it happen.

It wore me out, though.  I had cried at church, where I’ve attended twice and not had anyone speak with me.  I came home to one of my decor items being covered in resin.  I had held it together and come up with a solution ever-so-swiftly.  I expressed my frustration but also moved on in my day.  But when I couldn’t find Pete’s boots, I couldn’t hold it all in anymore.

Ironically, they were in the very last place I looked and it was in, of all my places, my bedroom.  Under my nose since we moved in a month ago.  When I found them, I cried some more and went to my GriefShare group.  In our group time, we discussed that everyone deals with grief differently, ie. a  member couldn't go into her partner’s truck a year later, let alone think about selling it, but another member decided that they had to clean out her husband’s truck the week after he passed away.  We also discussed exactly what I needed to hear which was:  extend yourself grace and when you need to make a change, you will know.

I was so hard on myself about letting myself get so emotional about the thought of losing Pete’s boots.  I spoke to myself about why I didn’t take better care of them.  I’ve also been struggling a lot with trying to figure out the logic of why the 2nd year has felt like the first in several aspects.  I had been warned about year 2, but it was still a conundrum to me as to why this was my reality.  I even let myself go down the rabbit hole of feeling that my experience was isolated to me.

But, now, I am trying to put into practice what I’ve told friends of mine when they were too hard on themselves.  When I speak to myself like I would my best friend or a small toddler, I know it to be true that:

I’m doing the best I can with my circumstances

I am depending heavily on God to carry me through them.

I’ve done a lot of hard things in the past several years.

I will continue to grow and thrive during these times.

I am allowed to take some time out, to cry, to be overwhelmed.

I will not be overcome.

I am who I am because Pete loved me.

I am deciding who I am after Pete passed away.

I am not alone.

Although I’ve not done things are you’re “supposed to” in grief, ie. moving three times in the first year, etc., I am doing what is best for me and Sebra.





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