A year ago, twenty-one hours before my 38th birthday my husband of almost sixteen years died of complications from central nervous system vasculitis. I am now 39, our children, Jay is 14 and Elle is 12 while he is eternally 40.
This last year has been one of loss, grief, acceptance, bewilderment and never ending change. I am grayer, more fine lines surround my eyes and I am none the wiser.
The multitude of people that had turned out for his memorial, the outpouring of love and grief from those that knew him or came to support the ones that were left behind have faded. All but a few remain as life reverts to normal for them but the emptiness for me is almost worse. I kept our house because the recommendation is to not make any decisions within that first year. It’s definitely our house but certainly not our home. His clothes hang in the closet as if he will be back, his snowmobiles in the garage as if we will once again ride them. It’s a shell of what our home once was.
I found myself not knowing what to do. I had to relearn how to pay bills, apparently on time is something that takes time. I have refinanced the house, sold his truck, signed a new lease for my car, seen my son transition from middle school to high school, I am witnessing my daughter transform from little girl into a young woman and yet all I can think of is of how absent I have been and continue to be in everyday life.
Breaking down is not an option, giving up is unthinkable but moving on is unbearable. How does one do this?
The first year was all about keeping it together but just ten months into the grief it all unraveled. The holidays as usual brought stress but this year it was accompanied by angst. The normal obligations were worsened by the fact that Brett wasn’t here to help me deal and to talk me down. I learned that although people tell you “do what feels good, if you don’t want to do something don’t do it” what they really mean is do all of that but only do it if it doesn’t intrude on what they want and what they want you to do. After all they are grieving a loss too.
I distanced myself from everyone found old and new friends but hid. I fell apart in silence and in hiding. On the surface I was fine. I got up everyday went through the motions, went to work, family obligations, school functions but not the same. On the outside I apparently looked fine, good even, but on the inside unrecognizably sad and scared. Unable to make decisions.
I am alone a lot and now I am embarking on the second year without him.