One year without Dan.

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”  ~Author Unknown

September 13th is tomorrow and it’s  the anniversary of my husband Dan’s passing. I really didn’t want this day to come. If I am being honest, I wondered if anyone would remember.

On the eve of his passing last year, I went to bed in the wee hours as I always did not knowing if that was his last night with me or not. His hospital bed was next to our bed so I was used to not sleeping. He was unconscious but I still spoke to him as if he was his normal self. His breathing was so heavy and labored so we knew the end was very near. My mom slept with me that night. She knew it was time and didn’t want me to be alone. It was around 3 am when we both woke because it was silent. Yes, we were woken by the peacefulness of the room. I opened my eyes and could see my mom over him, touching his heart to see if he was still breathing. We turned on the lights and kept checking and checking his pulse. Although we knew he was gone, I think we were both in denial. Then she left the room so I could be alone with him one last time. I remember every minute of that day and night as if was yesterday.

And this week, I’ve been keeping really busy because in the moments I am not, I think about this time last year. Although I was surrounded by family and friends, I can’t help but wonder how I might have lived that last week with him differently. Did I say enough? Did I do enough? I know in my heart I had no control and I did all that I could to care for him and let him know how much I loved him, but it’s only human to question yourself. Right?

The past 12 months have been a whirlwind. Some of my feelings include fear, guilt, sorrow, courage, happy, sad, relaxed, crazy, tired, energetic, devastated, content, elated, weak, grateful, strong, and loved…just to name a few!

The anticipation of this day also made me think about what is appropriate to do on the day that marks the death of your husband. I don’t think anyone has the right answer for that one. Who really wants to celebrate a death? And what do you call it? A death-a-versary? An angel-versary? So what I plan to do is to reflect on what I have lost, what I have gained, and what I have learned through it all.

I appreciate the gift of life as I never did before. Since the day that Dan left us, I had no choice but to put one foot in front of the other and live. Live for myself, for my boys, and for Dan. I lost my husband and shortly after, I lost my job. That in itself would send anyone into a dark place but I realized I am much stronger than I ever knew. I made a lot of big changes in the last year like selling our home and cars and starting over. I made new routines with my boys. I played Santa all alone. I celebrated holidays with my family. I laughed a lot and cried a lot, sometimes both at the same time. I spent countless hours on the phone with my best friend talking over our grief or as we like to call it, our good grief. I had to put my ego aside many times and ask for help with the tasks that I could not do on my own. I traveled with best friends. I made new friends and lasting memories. I vacationed with the boys. I tackled many first for the boys alone. I went outside of my fitness comfort zone and completed a 10 mile race and a triathlon. I have become much more spiritual. I experienced things that prove there really is no such thing as coincidences.  And most of all, I have learned that it’s okay to be happy again.

I cried so hard writing this blog that my body ached inside and out. But when I wiped my tears away I remembered what I have today and how much love I am surrounded by and my heart swells with happiness.

And now I would like to ask you a favor. Hold your loved ones close, savor the moments, and that means even the hard ones because tomorrow is never promised.

That’s not all.

Pay it forward for Dan. What do I mean? Do something nice for your friend, wife, husband, sister, brother, son, daughter, co-worker, mother, father, aunt, uncle…or even the stranger behind you in line at Starbucks. It can be as simple as a hug and an I love you. Flowers. A free coffee. Hold the door for someone. Just do something nice for someone today in honor of Dan or a loved one you may have lost. I promise you will make someone’s day and make yourself feel good too.  Oh and leave a comment here (or on Facebook) to let me know what you did. I would love to read about all your gestures of kindness.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite pics. It’s late and I have a ton of pics but here are some of my favorites and how I would like the boys to always remember him since they are too young to know otherwise.

UntitledThanks for reading!

12 thoughts on “One year without Dan.

  1. So many thoughts accompanied with tears of sadness and happiness. We are all so proud of your accomplishments especially the role of Mommy & Daddy. Even though Dan can never be replaced, I know he would agree that you are “rockin it babe” and doing what he would approve of most and that’s enjoying life and being happy! Love and so many hugs to you, “stinks” and “T” ♥

    We will pay it forward tomorrow in honor of the Dan. ♥

  2. Gina (little G) as I remember you,
    You brought me to tears reading this. You are truly an amazingly strong woman. I am speechless. Tomorrow I will pay it forward in honor of your husband, Dan.
    Wishing you much love and continued strength,
    Rebecca (Beem)

  3. Gina, yesterday as I was driving, you came across my mind. For me, thats always a reminder to say a prayer. I remembered that this day was coming and you’d make a choice as to how to remember & celebrate your beloved Dan. I prayed that you’d look back over this year and realize that you blessed with love and support & the gift of friendship from many and far. I think about your boys and pray Gods protection over them daily & that although they are young, they’d never forget what a great dad they have – because they still do have their dad in their heart. You’re an inspiration and a testimony to how strong you can be in the midst of a loss. I pray today your smile and words touch someones life.

  4. Thank you for always sharing your heart and soul when write Gina. I am so proud of you for many reasons – your inspiration, strength, perserverance and the way you are living your life as an example not only to the boys, but to us all.

    Thinking of you and sending you lots of love and light, today and always. I will be paying it forward today in honor of Dan. ❤

  5. You. Are. Outstanding. You have gifts you don’t even know you have. You have moved more people in a positive direction than you will ever know. I think of you all the time, even stalk your fb page, when I am going in the “wrong” direction, to remind me of real life. Many prayers to you and the boys today and everyday. XO, Randi

  6. This was so sad and so beautiful all at the same time. You truly are a very strong woman. I’ve never met you (I went to high school with Cara) but I’ve read all of Cara’s posts about you and Dan and feel like I know you both. May God continue to bless you and your family. I will post as soon as I “Pay It Forward For Dan” and please hug your boys another time today too. Stay strong.

    • Gina,
      I was thinking of you and your family today and hoping you were able to find some peace in the last year. Your post was beautiful and Dan would be very proud of all you have accomplished. I will definitely be paying it forward today and thinking of Dan. Take care.

  7. I sent a message a few moments ago and it’s not showing up. I doubt I can recall all that I wrote, but will do the best I can here. I hope this one posts. I feel connected to you, yet not knowing you that well. I am amazed by your strength and courage. Thank you for sharing your heart and feelings as you face such a challenge each and every day. You are so amazing and beautiful. My favorite photo is of Dan kissing your beautiful face. I think of you often and hope for nothing but the best for you and your boys. Bless you with Peace & Hope! Big hugs!

  8. Gina we have never met, but I have seen posts and statuses through our sisters. I am awed and inspired by your writing. I became a widow a little over 6 years ago. I lost my husband suddenly, in my home from heart failure. I moved, lost my job and as you know my sister Lisa lost her husband suddenly 4 weeks ago. I too am still standing, despite the fact the world turned upside down yet again in 12 short days. We are all living a life, and raising children on our own. A life none of us chose for ourselves. I like you have never looked at life the same. I treasure every moment, every person, every emotion. I live my life trying to be a good person always. I take nothing for granted anymore. It comforts me to read and know that my journey never has to be travelled alone. I just wanted to reach out and tell you that although I don’t know you, I do. My thoughts, prayers and best wishes go out to you, your boys and your family. May you always find the strength, love, peace and comfort you need as you continue on your journey and know there is someone else out there pulling for you.
    Fondly,

    Kara

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