“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.