One of the most painful questions widows tend to ask ourselves days, weeks, months, and even years after our spouse dies is, “what would we be doing right now if you were still here?” Even though I’m in the thick of this “new life” I’ve been living for over a year and a half now, I still find myself wondering what life would look like had the worst day of my life never happened.
We’d have another child. I’m fairly certain of that…Nate and I had just begun talking about trying for another baby before we went on our final trip together to Las Vegas. We both agreed that ideally, we’d like to have one or two more kids, and Nate always said how much he’d like to have a daughter someday if it were to happen…though we were both happy with an army of boys if that’s what was in the cards for us. I won’t lie though, my heart still melts picturing how Nate would have looked with a baby girl in his arms with Ian standing proudly next to him. I picture it even though it never got to happen. I picture it, and my heart hurts knowing it will never happen…but I picture it nonetheless. Yes, I sometimes see the faces of the children we would have had…if he were still here.
I think about all of the work we would have done on our home by now…Finally replacing the windows upstairs, maybe even starting to finish the basement like we always dreamt about. Springtime was always one of Nate’s favorite times of year because he loved working outside, especially with our son in tow. And then I think wow…This is the second spring away from our house. This is the second spring without Nate…I think about the tree in the backyard that he planted and took such pride in and how big it probably is by now…I think about all of our cookouts and family time outside that was bound to happen…if he were still here.
Ian had his first major birthday party this past weekend, and all I could do was picture how much fun Nate would have had with him and all of his little buddies. I saw him running around the soccer field, chasing Ian and bouncing right alongside him on the bounce houses. Nate would be having a ball with this fun, active age Ian is at…He probably would be a volunteer coach for whatever activity Ian got involved in…I picture how much their relationship would have blossomed even more…if he were still here.
I often find myself thinking about all of the things that used to stress me out before Nate died…And then I get angry at myself because those things seem so stupid now… and I would give just about anything to have my husband back even if it meant he’d never empty the damn sink again. I think about how much of a relief it would be to once again share the workload and stress of life with a partner and how much simpler my day to day life would be if he were still here.
One of the most difficult tasks of my life is trying to make peace with the past and with what I’ve lost in hopes that my visions of the future become a little more clear. Those visions completely changed when Nate died because they had to, but letting go of them is so hard. I still want the kids. I want the house. I want the family time. I want it all. I want my fucking husband back. Mmmkay? That’d be great.
If Nate were still here, life would be so different. So, so different.
But he isn’t. And he isn’t ever going to be here again.
When you choose someone that you want to build your life with, each memory you make or each goal you strive to reach becomes the foundations to a masterpiece of a painting. The colors, though different, begin to blend together and build off of one another. Each year, that painting becomes more and more full, and more and more clearer until you can almost see the final product and the beauty that lies ahead…
Then in a split second, that painting is destroyed, and you are left staring at a blank canvas.
I’ve realized over the past 18 months, that though that masterpiece I was creating with Nate is no longer an option, I still am building upon that canvas each day I get up and continue to live life. Nate’s colors will always be entertwined with mine and Ian’s, and the final product will always have his touch. But it’s time for me to start making my own mark on that canvas…To continue where we left off.
I’m going to continue to try to shift my thought process from “if he were still here” to be more in the present moment. As difficult as it is, I realize the importance of trying to focus more on the possibilities life may offer someday instead of the opportunities I lost when I lost Nate. Death has taught me many things…including the futile question of “what if?”…What if I had seen the signs Nate was dying? What if it had been me who had died? What if I had gotten to the hospital sooner? What if Nate had never died? All of those questions do nothing but make my heart hurt and my head feel like I’m going crazy…
The fact is, I have to continue to paint a new picture. And that picture is going to be vastly different then the one I once thought I was creating…But I can only hope that with enough work and perseverance, perhaps it can still be a part of a whole new masterpiece.