New Year’s 2013 my little family of 3 rang in the New Year together in Virginia. It was FREEZING (especially for us Floridians) but we enjoyed the local celebration and exploring the town of Williamsburg. As always, Jared and I shared a kiss at midnight. It was the first time in years we hadn’t spent the holiday with family and friends. It was the first time we ever spent it just the 3 of us. It was the last time we would celebrate the holiday together. If only I had known it was the last time.
New Year’s Eve 2014 I was lonely. Heartbroken. Sad. I was with dear friends and yet felt all alone. That day was the hardest holiday, harder even than Christmas. Made me miss Jared inexplicably. There was no one special to kiss me at midnight. No one special to ring in the new year with me. No one special to make plans for the coming year with me. The thought of a year that wouldn’t know Jared was painful. Hurt beyond words. The realization that we wouldn’t make any new memories hit me like a punch in the gut. The realization that Jared would never again kiss me at midnight brought tears to my eyes. The realization that my future would not include Jared in the present tense was almost more than I could bear. How could time keep going when my whole world had stopped 3 months before? At the stroke of midnight, I looked towards the heavens and blew Jared a kiss. It was the only kiss we could ever again share to ring in the New Year.
New Year’s Eve 2015, my son and I went away to the mountains. I was hoping a change of scenery would help us welcome the new year with a brighter attitude. I realized that when the calendar changed to 2016, I would never again say “last year Jared and I” or “ last year we” and I didn’t want to face that reality. 2014 was the last year we spent together, made memories and ringing in 2016 meant there was no more last year for us. And I hated that thought. I wanted to turn back time. But no such luck. It kept kept marching forward. Steven and I counted down to midnight and rang in another year without Jared. But I made sure to look up and blow Jared a kiss in heaven to ring in the New Year.
New Year’s Eve 2016 once again found us celebrating with friends. Remembering Jared. Reflecting on what was and looking forward to the year to come. I had decided my third year as a widow was going to be all about me. Living life. Taking adventures. Opening myself up to the possibility of loving again. For the first time since Jared died, I was looking forward to starting a new year. Time was marching on and for the first time in over two years, I was excited to see what my future held. And that future included my annual kiss to the heavens to ring in the New Year with Jared.
New Year’s Eve 2017 found me doing something I never expected…exchanging vows with my new love. We had a met year before, just gotten engaged in November, and on December 21st decided to tie the knot on New Year’s Eve. Life is short and can change in an instant, so we didn’t want to wait to start our forever. We planned a wedding in 10 days and it was perfect. Beautiful. Just what I wanted. And as we poured our unity sand, a rainbow appeared above us. I knew then Jared was giving us his blessing. He was proud of me for living, moving forward. Jared had made me promise to live, to love and I truly believe he sent my new love to me. Ringing in the New Year with my new husband just seemed the natural thing to do. Time doesn’t stop and for once I didn’t want it to. Yet, I still made sure to send my New Year kiss to Jared in heaven. And Jon, my new husband, was standing by side as I did it.
So what will New Year’s Eve 2018 hold in store for me? I will be ringing in the New Year with Jon, my son, his daughter, and our friends. We will celebrate our first year of marriage. We will share past memories. And make plans for our future. At midnight, right after I share a kiss with Jon, I will look towards the heavens and blow Jared a kiss. No matter how much time passes, Jared will always be in my heart. And our annual New Year kiss is a tradition I intend to keep. I am blessed that my new husband understands and supports my never ending love for Jared.
Time stops for no one and I think that’s a good thing. Because time allows wounds to scar, fears to lessen, and new hopes to bloom. As the clock strikes midnight this year, I will enjoy the love, comfort, and peace of my past, present, and future.