I changed my name on Monday.
It’s been slightly comical, trying to explain to people who come into my life at this point that Amanda Kloese and Amy Havlik are the same person. That yes, I am Amy and Amanda, I am Kloese and I am Havlik, and so happy to be both.
It hits me deeper than the formality of filling out a form and changing some papers. Where does Amy Kloese go now that I am Amy Havlik? What happens to Jason’s wife, his caregiver, the keeper of his memories? I never want to let her go, I always want to be Amy K.
But I am more than Amy K now, I have added a few layers to myself. I am Jeff’s wife, his best friend, his partner. We are the Havlik family, and I cherish the fact that we get to dream together about what life will hold for us.
Maybe the most important layer I have added to my identity in the past four years is a supreme level of comfort in just being Amy. I think that’s why I can so confidently say I can still carry Kloese with me as I become Havlik, because at the core is a strong woman capable of handling anything life throws her way.
There are still tears in my life, and there were lots on Monday. The drive home from the Social Security office was like a journey back in time. The office is across the street from the hospital and clinic where we spent so many days and nights. A few miles down the road is the cemetery where his ashes are buried. On the same route is the apartment we lived in when we found out his life would be cut so tragically short. And then I arrived home, to the house we built together, that I still call home, where he died and where I continue to live.
Amy K will continue to live. Amy H is living vibrantly. And just plain Amy is the strength behind it all.