One thing I have been told about grief is that the firsts are the hardest. I learned that quickly. I had the proverbial bandaid ripped off as your 31st birthday was the day after the funeral and my birthday came two days after that. The following month included our daughter’s second birthday and our 4th wedding anniversary.
Then the holidays followed.
Halloween came and went. Our daughter dressed up as a cheerleader. We were invited to go trick or treating with friends followed by some chili. We had a good time.
Thanksgiving came and went. We spent it with my family in New Hampshire. Four generations came together. I made most of dinner and baked three pies which you would think was a waste of time but I enjoy the process of baking. I squeezed in time in Maine and Boston.
Christmas came and went. It was spent with our Albany Family. Feliz Navidad Brunch and an Italian Feast that can’t be beat.
New Years came and went. I got to say good-bye to 2016 (literally the worst year of my life) and I welcomed 2017. We stayed up to see Mariah Carey make a fool of herself. Be glad you weren’t there to see that. The festivities continued the next day at the New Beginnings Brunch.
Valentine’s Day came and went. We celebrated at the Toddler 3 class party. Friends sent packages and our favorite golden retriever, Carter, told his parents to buy us roses which Carter’s father did.
Easter came and went. There were several Easter egg hunts, a ham dinner and dyeing of Easter eggs.
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day came and went. Holidays that I couldn’t distract myself with company.
And now it’s the Fourth of July.
The last first holiday without you.
Sure, there is Bastile Day but we didn’t celebrate that. I am sure you could come up with some other random holidays that we didn’t celebrate just to frustrate me and keep me from making my point.
The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. If you were still alive, we’d spent the 3rd with your best friends family on the lake and on the 4th, we’d go to a baseball game. Because what is more American than baseball and fireworks? And I would get annoyed with you because you used to work at Disney and you knew how fireworks were choreographed. You knew every firework move before they happened.
Since your death, some traditions have changed.
I haven’t gone to any baseball games since you were gone. Part of the reason is that you had a friendship with the lady at the beer stand. She loved you and I don’t know if she knows if you have died. And I don’t want to have to tell her. I know she will be crushed if she doesn’t already know. I avoid people who may not have known. I just can’t do it. I don’t want to cry in public.
But some traditions will stay the same.
Our daughter and I will be with your best friends family at the lake. My heart hurts to think that you aren’t going to be there. We had a lot of memories at those parties. The fireworks, the boat rides and the amazing food. You always brought Sam Summer ale. And who can forget when I was 30 weeks pregnant and I pressed the wrong button on the bidet and for about 10 seconds I thought my water had broke.
There is no way around it, you will be missed. But I know that I am not the only person who will be missing you at the party. Your best friends family is an extension of our family. Last year when you were in the ICU and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a babysitter, they gladly took our daughter for the day so I could sit with you. We were hopeful that you were going to recover and be there with us today.
But as we all know, you won’t be there. Because you are dead.
The fact your best friend’s family still include us the same as they did when you were alive means more to me than I can ever express in spoken or written word. They are part of our family whether their son marries our daughter or not. (We are still taking pictures for the rehearsal dinner slide show just in case). Whether they get married or not, I think it is safe to say that they will grow up together.
We will try not to dwell on your absence too much. I know you wouldn’t want that.
And also, you will be there in spirit. At least that is what people tell me. Like, all the time. I think they mean well. I think they think that by saying it that makes me feel better but it doesn’t. Even if it’s true, we all know you are dead and that it’s not the same.
Part of me is relieved that all the first holidays will be done. But then I realize that there will still be a whole bunch of firsts.
Later this month I will go to my first wedding without you.
Weddings. I won’t have you to dance with me. We won’t be coordinating outfits. And I can’t just absentmindedly choose the chicken dish knowing that I can have a taste of your beef dish. You won’t be there getting enraged if someone chooses First Corinthians for their reading. I won’t hear you rant about how Paul wasn’t talking about romantic love, that he was talking about the love of The Church.
You won’t be there for all our daughter’s firsts. Her first day of kindergarten. Her first recital. Her first sports competition. Her first time riding a bike without training wheels. Her first date. (You might be dead, but I am sure your blood pressure just went up). You will miss all her big days. Her graduations. Her prom. Her wedding. You won’t be there to meet her children.
And then I think of all the firsts that I never thought I would ever have to repeat. Especially at this stage of my life. I don’t want to think about these firsts. Not yet. I miss you too much. But eventually I am going to have to think about it. I am not going to lie, I am kind of angry that I am in this position. I was happy with you. Sure, we had our problems, but I was happy. We were a good team. But you taught me how to love and you made me a better person so I know my story isn’t over yet. I also think it’s ironic. Loving you made me a better person and you don’t even get to experience it. Someone else might but not you. Seems like a twisted joke. This whole ordeal (crisis? nightmare? my life?) seems like a twisted joke.
So tomorrow (technically later today as I write this) we will miss you more than anyone can imagine. We will be comforted by each other’s company. And we know that you will be there, whether it’s “in spirit” as everyone tells me, or if it’s because you are a part of us now or a combination of the two.