First trip to visit my husband’s family without him – check. First birthday without him – check. First Thanksgiving without him – check.
Christhankmas was the best plan I could’ve devised to help get through these firsts, but it wasn’t without its painful moments. I was surrounded by laughter and love, which was beyond wonderful. We had a great time with my in-laws and with my husband’s aunt for the first leg of our trip. Then when we arrived in Kentucky for Christhankmas part 2, I hugged, kissed and played with my nephews and my niece. I laughed until I cried with my brother, sister and their spouses. All the cousins in coordinated Christmas pajamas – it was perfect…except my husband wasn’t there. I realized last week there is no plan available to adequately fill that hole in my heart. There are things I can do, and did do to minimize the hurt, but I realized there’s no magic plan that takes it away completely.
My brother was so compassionate and thoughtful, taking extra measures to soften the blow that was all of these firsts. A birthday cake, invitations to run errands with him to get away from it all, a University of Kentucky basketball game, a wrapped birthday gift, cranberry mimosas – lots of special efforts to ease the pain. But there was still pain.
My birthday was more difficult than Thanksgiving Day, which surprised me. It isn’t that I require gifts or extra special treatment for my birthday, but it was my husband who made sure I received those things anyway. It was my husband who gathered the kids to make homemade birthday cards. It was my husband who made sure they sang to me and gave me extra love on my birthday. It was my husband who was always the first to greet me on my birthday. It is fresh in my memory – the way he’d grab my hand in bed– sometimes just after midnight, or first thing in the morning so he could be the first to wish me a Happy Birthday. He’d say “Happy Birthday, my love,” and give me a kiss. That is something no one or no thing can replace. That’s the emptiness that caused me to quietly cry myself to sleep this first birthday without him. So, now I know there’s no such thing as pain-free and I have to readjust my goals to pain minimizing.
I came home from Christhankmas feeling thankful, overwhelmed, joyful and homesick…except I AM home. I remember Gman saying he felt homesick when his Dad first died. It’s a very accurate description of grief. It’s the heavy in your heart when you’re missing someone. I miss my husband, and now I miss my family too.
The next month is going to be brutal. Wedding anniversary, college graduation and Christmas – quite a challenging lineup from the end of November to the end of December. But I can do it. One day at a time, I can do it. It isn’t going to be perfect, it isn’t going to be pain-free, but it can still be joyful. So that’s my new goal – to do what I can to minimize the suck but still seek and grab on to the joy. One day at a time, my friends. We will get through this one day at a time.