This has been a hard month. It is a busy month for work as well as there are so many triggers in the month of June. It has been three years and yet June is still a hard month. It is not the month he passed away, nor is it his birthday month, however June holds other triggers.
It was June 11th, 2017 that my dear husband was given his death sentence. Although it has been three years since the day that shattered my soul, I still grieve and mourn for him. For the life we had and for what my kids miss by not having him. A week after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer that year it was Father’s Day. We did our best to celebrate him, despite him not feeling great. At the time our oldest daughter was 11 years old. She cried that night in bed telling me she was so scared Daddy wouldn’t be here next year. It turns out she was right. Chad got a 3-month fight.
Wrapped up in this month is also my Father in Laws birthday. The part that stings about that is at every family gathering I feel the weight of Chad not being here, like an elephant sitting on my chest. It can be so hard to have all the same people celebrating a special day except for the one that matters most to me. We had Chad’s nephew’s grad. Another fantastic milestone that we celebrated without my husband. Camped out in their yard like we use to do…..except the kids and I can’t camp out anymore because I can’t pull our RV on my own.
Then we have the end of school. Traditionally we use to celebrate summer starting with our kids. I always had a big welcome to summer sign with some new beach toys, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and flip flops. The kids walked in the door to the sign and goodies and off we would go to find some summer fun. Three years ago, on the last day of school Chad almost died that day. If not for my sister being a dialysis RN and having “her” doctor fight to save Chad’s kidneys he would have died that day. Instead of celebrating summer beginning, the kids and I prayed in a park outside of the hospital, for their daddy to live. We begged God to help us not be crushed under the weight of our pain. Our prayers were answered with a yes that day.
It’s been three years and yet still so much pain in the memories and new moments. How does one move forward when so held down by my past. I still ache for what I had but know I can’t stay in this place of pain. I’m working on this. Some days I do really well and can smile at the memories, feeling nothing but gratitude. Some days I don’t hurt so much.
I have learned these past three years that I need to give myself permission to be happy. I need to give permission each day and mean it. I need to allow myself to believe that being heartbroken over Chad is not proof of how much I love him. My broken heart is not a way to stay close to him. I know I continue to cling to my pain as a security blanket some days….as absurd as that may be. It feels as if my broken heart and pain is a way to still connect with him and guilt can sneak in if I let it go for too long.
Another June without him is almost over. We made it through and will soon start our summer. I have learned some survival tips these last three years. Self care for me and my kids needs to be a priority or our stress and sorrow could do us in.
The kids and I find we need something fun to be looking forward to. I always have some sort of adventure planned to help us see life can still be good. Life can still hold beauty. I still don’t know God’s plan for us. We are taking it one day at a time. I do see His fingerprints on our lives as He continues to show up for us. I am so grateful for the opportunities we still have to find these adventures.
Extended day hiking has been one of my self care hobbies. Turns out my kids love to hike too. COVID doesn’t stop us from enjoying precious family time, unplugged in the rugged mountains. I am so grateful.
A slower pace means I can start work later than before COVID. I use this extra time to run in the mornings and sit on my deck afterward drinking coffee and reading my bible. Practicing some new breathing techniques and mindfulness. I am so very grateful.
I am looking forward to some new fun adventures and more peaceful mornings this summer. I am going to plan some “Welcome to Summer” celebrations. I know parts of summer will continue to be hard but we are learning how to find joy while living without someone so important to us. I am going to give myself permission to be happy again.
Summer of 2017, our then 9-year-old son asked me one night, “will next summer be like this?” I cried as I told him, “No son, it won’t be like this.” Fearing his dad was indeed dying quickly I added, “I am not sure it will be any better than this, but no matter what we will get through it. It will be really hard and some days we won’t believe it, but we will be okay again one day.” It has been three years. It is still so very hard, but many days I can see now that we will be okay one day.