All my life, I knew where I was headed. I knew my purpose. I studied dance in California, and I performed all over the world—New York City, Mexico City, and Florence, Italy. I knew what it meant to push my mind and body to extremes.
When I met Marc, he was going through BUD/s. Immediately, I recognized that same sort of unwavering drive in him. When he set his mind to something, there was no stopping him. As a dancer, I could understand and respect the sacrifices he made to his calling. In that regard, we spoke the same language. In others, we were distinctly different, but those differences only made us stronger.
Early in our relationship, we promised to support each other’s dreams—no matter what. I wanted to study dance and fashion design in New York City; Marc was in San Diego finishing BUD/s. No matter the distance, we were strong. We knew we had the rest of our lives to live in the same house together and to talk about the small day-to-day things like who would pick up the groceries and who would take out the trash—the most important thing was to set up a strong foundation.
Our foundation was strong but our time was cut short. After Marc died, after the memorial and all the goodbyes, I was lost. I couldn't find my focus. I traveled around the world, took a year off, trying to find my way out of the fog. Marc wanted to save the world in order for me to flourish in it—I didn’t know how to fill that void, the loss of someone who dedicated himself so completely to a cause larger than himself.
When you lose someone like that there are these big emotions that threaten to swallow you whole. Despair is probably the best word for it. After a while, you learn to balance that despair, or at least you learn to walk around without letting it knock you down. But then, every so often you have to deal with little life maintenance issues like taking his name and information off the credit cards, and those little events threaten to throw you completely off balance.
And everyone deals with it differently. For a while, I ran away from it, searching for a new way to see the world. And when I came home, I realized there was no way to outrun it or let go of Marc but that I need to keep building my life. I had good friends who helped me through it. They spent nights crying with me, laughing with me about little things that Marc used to do, and they let me get away with my black widow sense of humor—the sort of humor where you say completely inappropriate things and most everyone who doesn’t know you well gets really uncomfortable and doesn't know whether to laugh or just walk away.
I lived alone and I often felt alone. But I wasn’t. You know what it means to be a part of the Team? Six months after my husband died, I was moving from one apartment to another in New York City and seven of his teammates flew from San Diego to New York to move me eight blocks. Marc wasn’t there to help, but his teammates helped because they knew he couldn’t.
When Marc died, I lost my way for a bit, but I felt and I still feel his presence in times of need. I’m reminded of the gift of life and I promise myself every day to make the most of it. That’s the way Marc would have wanted it. That was the foundation of it all.