Last night I spent a good hour reading the letters I had written Nate in the first few weeks after he died. The truth is, those days are such a blur…When I look back at his visitation hours and funeral, I have only vague and hazy memories of what transpired those two days. In a way, I feel like it is somebody else’s life I am looking back on…But then I glimpse at the date on the calendar and very much remember that those days not only did happen, but they were the beginning of the life I was thrusted into on September 29th of last year.
Next month will be an entire year since I last saw my husband alive. I remember thinking in those early months how much I just wanted to fast forward a year down the road in hopes that I could make it through one day without succumbing to tears that soaked my pillow each night. I wanted so desperately for an even little reprieve from the ache inside my chest. I wanted to get through one day without that constant voice in my head reminding me that my husband was dead.
Well, as time continues to rapidly propel me towards that year anniversary, so much has changed yet much has stayed the same…I still soak my pillow with tears, but not each night. The ache in my chest is still very much alive, but it has become a part of what fuels me on a daily basis. And that voice still echoes clear in my head, but each day I continue learning how to adapt to this reality.
I don’t miss those early days when every emotion and wound was so fresh that I could barely function without feeling as though I wouldn’t make it the next hour let alone the next day. But as we approach the year anniversary, I realize that once September 29th passes, I will no longer be able to attribute “this time last year” with Nate. I will have lived a full year without him, and that reality has brought forth a whole new level of emotions I wasn’t expecting. Each second, each minute, each day that passes takes me further away from our last moment together and our last shared “I love you”.
On one hand-yes, I am relieved to have made it through the most insanely difficult year of life that has tested me in every way imaginable…Emotionally, physically, socially, spiritually…On the other, the reality that I have lived a whole year without the man I once saw all of my years with is the hardest pill to swallow.
I survived the first year of the rest of my life without Nate.
In the past year, I went from being a wife living that all American dream in a beautiful house with my family, to living with my parents as a single mom and full-time student.
In the past year, I have cried more than I have smiled.
In the past year, I have questioned my existence on a daily basis.
In the past year, I have endlessly doubted my abilities to parent my son on my own.
In the past year, I have questioned my belief in God more times then I like to admit.
In the past year, I have felt more anger then I have in my entire 31 years.
In the past year, I have felt more lost and scared for the future then I ever did during those 13 years with my husband.
In the past year, I have had to set fire to the dreams I once held so tightly to and to the woman I once was…
But in that same year, from those ashes, I am trying to lay the groundwork for new dreams to be built.
In a year, I went from being a wife living that all American dream in a beautiful house with my family, to living with my parents as a single mom and full-time student…But each day I am reminded how very lucky I am to have the support system I have and to have my parents alongside me, cheering me on.
In a year, I have cried more than I have smiled…But each of those smiles have been the purest of smiles because each one proves that it’s possible to discover moments of joy, even in the darkest of days.
In a year, I have questioned my existence on a daily basis…But those questions continue to fuel me to work harder to live.
In a year, I have endlessly doubted my abilities to parent my son on my own…But the loving, beautiful, young man my son continues to grow into pushes me to continue trying my best even if some days my best means a lazy movie day in bed with my boy.
In a year, I have questioned my belief in God more times than I like to admit…But Nate has continued to find ways to show Ian and I that he is still with us, so I try every day to have faith and hope that there is something bigger.
In a year, I have felt more anger then I have in my entire 31 years…But I have discovered positive outlets to direct that anger towards.
In a year, I have felt more lost and scared for the future then I ever did during those 13 years with my husband…But each day I wake up, and just try to do things that will lead me towards a future my son and I deserve.
A year ago, my life was so different. I was a wife. A parenting partner in a dream team of two. I was married to my soul mate and together, we had all the time in the world. I dreamed differently. I saw the world differently. I felt differently. I lived differently. I even loved differently.
The grief I have endured this past year has forced me to feel more than I ever have. It has fueled a life I never knew I would have to live or was capable of living, and it’s driven me to love and live more deeply and purposefully in every aspect of my life.
If there is one thing that this year has taught me, is that there are endless possibilities for the year to come. But in the same breath, it also taught me none of those possibilities are guaranteed no matter how much you plan or dream for them to happen…so what happens today matters. How you feel today matters. How you live today matters. Most importantly, how you love today matters…
So basically? Feel, live, and love as deeply as you can. And in the words of my hubby, “don’t sweat the small stuff”.