The first year

It was one year ago today that I watched the life leave Bryon’s body.

It was one year ago today that I left the hospital for the last time.  

Without Bryon.

It was the first day of the rest of my life.  

A life without Bryon.

365 days have passed since Bryon has left this world.  365 days without his legendary personality, his stories, his intelligent insight and his jokes.

365 nights that I have gone to bed knowing that Bryon won’t be there when I wake up.  365 nights that I lay in bed alone, not having him to argue about the TV being left on or who is the bigger bed hog. I lie in bed knowing I will never be held by Bryon again.

For those 365 days and nights, I have been surviving.  

This has been a year of survival.  It wasn’t about any long term plan.  It was about making it one day at a time.  Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed, but that wasn’t an option as the mother of a two year old.  I had to get up each day to take care of my daughter.  One day at a time.  I can’t worry about tomorrow when I have to get through today.

This has been a year of shock.  How did this happen? In 2016?  How is this my life? Why did this have to happen?  What was I supposed to do with my life now?  How am I supposed to carry on when my rock was gone? How am I going to raise my daughter alone?  How am I supposed to live an empty life?  Even a year later, I am still kind of stunned that all this happened.

This has been year of numbness.  My year as a widow began with binge watching Gilmore Girls.  I was living my life by just going through the motions.  I kept myself busy so I didn’t have to think about how horrible and empty my life is.  I may have run a half marathon, redecorated my living room and travelled to New Hampshire, Boston, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Chicago and Maine. But I still have felt dead inside.

This has been a year of forced living.  I have done a lot this past year.  I have done it while feeling dead inside.  Every person that has gone through profound loss has to make a choice.  You have to decide whether you are going to let it destroy you or if you are going to continue to live.  I chose not to let it destroy me, but that still didn’t make living any easier.  If you choose not to let it destroy you, that path to keep living takes a lot of effort and energy.  It’s not an easy path.

This has been a year of transformation and growth.  When the foundation of your life has been completely destroyed, you begin to question every single thing that you believe or thought you have believed.  I have questioned every institution I believed in.  The Catholic Church and Christianity in general. I am still not feeling warm and fuzzy about the big guy upstairs.  The American political system- well, I don’t want to get into that.  I no longer trust the American healthcare system is looking out for my family.  It’s about money and not about people’s lives.  All I can do is try to do the best for myself, my daughter and my family.

I have learned so much about myself this year.  I have been figuring out who the true me is and I am trying to remain loyal to her.  I have gotten back in touch with the younger version of myself while simultaneously pushing myself to grow in new areas, all while trying to process the lessons of the present.   I have also had to accept that sometimes our life plans change and you don’t always get a choice in the change.  But you must adapt to these changes.

This has been a year of friendship and love.  I have gotten so much love from my daughter, my family and friends.  So many people have held me up (and continue to do so).  I have learned that family is not always blood.  I learned that I need people.  I am so lucky to have these people in my life and no words can possibly convey my true feelings.

This has been a year of truth and clarity.  I have had to deal with the harsh realities of life. I have also realized that some friendships are so thin that you can see right through them.   I also had friends and family who I didn’t hear from and their silence was deafening.   At least now I am clear on who my honest and true friends are.

Some of my friendships that I thought were true were not.  Many people tried to use my tragedy for their personal gain. I had people who I thought were friends try to manipulate me.  One of the biggest tidbits I can give is don’t mess with a widow or widower.  They have already been to hell and back.  They might be vulnerable, but vulnerable does not equal weak.  Underneath all that sadness and vulnerability is one of the strongest people you will ever know.  

This year I have removed toxic people from my life and I have not regretted it once.  Life is too short to deal with that.  

I have spent the year re-evaluating every aspect of my life.  There is truth to that cliche that dying is a part of life.  We are only here for a short time and life is meant to be lived.  You only have one life and it is up to you to make the most of it.  Bryon made his short life count and I don’t want to squander my time here.

I have to face the fact that I have a future and Bryon won’t be in that future.  He will only exist in the future as a memory.  I thought I had my life figured out but now I am travelling on an unknown path.  Now that I know how easily life can change, I want to make my future years matter.  I want to be the best person I can be and live the best life possible.

I miss Bryon so much.  There are no words in the English language to describe how much I miss him.  The one thing that keeps from being bitter is the fact that I know our love was real and I would never trade in those years.  No matter how brief they were.  I hold those years very close to my heart.

When I first became a widow, I joined a lot of online widow communities.  I remember reading from people that the second year is worse than the first year.  My grief was new and raw and I remember thinking that there was no way the second year could possibly be worse than the first year.  But now as I am about to embark on Year Two of widowhood, I get it.  During the first year, you are in a fog, which helps you survive.  But when you approach the second year, that fog lifts and you are left with the cold, harsh reality of life with no fog to dull the pain.  

I have heard that the first year of widowhood is about survival.  The second year of widowhood is about learning to really live again.  Living again is a scary prospect.  It is easy to get stuck in grief.  In some ways, grief is comforting.   As long as you are grieving, you are keeping your loved one close.  In order to move forward, one has to, to a certain degree, let go.  Obviously you never completely let go, but it’s still very scary.  

 I have survived the first year of widowhood.  And now it is time for me to try to live again.  But I know, without a doubt that it is what Bryon wants.

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8 thoughts on “The first year

  1. People will always tell you that the first year is the hardest and it will get easier. I don’t think it ever gets easier, it just gets different. And you get used to different. Of course, I’ve only lost my mum, not my husband, but I still don’t feel it’s EASIER. I’ve just gotten used to a life without her in it. Hugs and thoughts with you and your little one. 🕊🌹❤️

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  2. This was very moving, moving and sad and hopeful. I can see that you have the strength to start living again. You have to move at your own pace, but you are showing your daughter hard lesson in resiliency. It’s so true how living in grief can be comforting because it keeps the people close to us near. It’s good that you recognize that. I hope that you live this next 365 days always remembering what you said about life and how important it is to appreciate the time we have and make the most of it. One day you won’t be dead inside and I know that’s exactly what Byron would have wanted.

    I don’t know a lot about death, so sometimes I don’t know what to say. But when I read your posts like this, it always centers me and calms me because the things that I’m dealing with are more than bearable if you can bear this. Sending you a big hug.

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  3. I’ve never experienced the death of such a close person to me, I think, but I know you’re on the right path because you didn’t stop living. You are not in denial and will be able to live through the harsh pain and continue to have moments of clarity. I’m sure of that. Kisses to you and your darling girl.

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  4. You have been through so much in such a short space of time. I read your words and see strength, wisdom and clarity. I see a woman who has lost someone so near and dear to her heart that words can never explain how much her heart aches and misses him. I am thankful that your real support system of friends and family have stepped up to the challenge and are there supporting you. One day at a time! 🙂 Best wishes to you and your precious little girl.

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  5. Today was my six month mark — six months since my husband died. So much of what you said here rings true in my life as well. I am currently repainting my entire downstairs. I’m always looking for outings for us to keep from spending entire weekends at home with our loss. I would spend every day in bed, were it not for my two boys — age seven. But they are here and they need me so I push on. Every day. Sometimes I’m happy and sometimes I’m sad, but much of the time I’m just numb. Thank you for sharing your journey.

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