Exactly one year ago we had only 31 days left with you.
I charged your phone up the other day to look at your text messages from this time of year. There were Halloween pictures, pictures from your hunting trip, videos….you made so any silly videos. It was overwhelming to see where we were a year ago; Where you were. I looked up our text messages to one another…there was a message that never got delivered, you said, “I love you”. It hit me like a ton of bricks and sent me straight back to second guessing everything I thought about those last days. Did I miss something? Were there signs? Was there something I could have done better? I can keep myself up for hours going around all these questions. If I had known one year ago that I only had one month left with you in my life…what would I do differently? Probably be kinder, more gentle with my words. I would take more pictures and videos. I would stop our lives to focus on our family and fill it with togetherness, peacefulness, and love. All these “what ifs” will forever be a void in my life that won’t be filled, it can’t be fixed.
I keep a journal of every dream of you I can remember. I look back at them and often don’t remember much of them, so I’m glad to have written them down. I try to look for signs that you’re trying to communicate with me in some way. Some dreams are nightmares of you, those are the worst. Those are the ones that keep me up at night afraid of death. I share the good dreams with Johnathan and ask if he ever dreams of you, he says he does, that he has special conversations with you, but he rarely tells me details; I think they are his special moments with you too.
So much has happened in this year, it has gone by so quickly - yet not so quickly all at the same time – much like nothing else in our lives that makes sense anymore. Some moments are hard to get through and it feels like time has stood still, yet I look back and realize that I’ve almost lived an entire year without you and it breaks me. I’ve experienced almost every holiday, birthday, anniversary….without you. I don’t know how I survived this year. There were a lot of break downs and inconsolable crying, yelling, anger, emptiness….a lot of staring off and daydreaming about how unreal this still feels.
I don’t know how I’m going to get through your one year anniversary, I try to think about something to do…some way to honor your memory…but I can’t focus too long or I feel like I’ll lose my mind. After Halloween it feels like a major countdown is beginning….like a giant clock is ticking in my head counting down to December 2nd ready to relive that day all over again, the shock afterwards, the planning of your services, the phone calls that were made, the trauma of the questioning and trying to piece it all together. I know I have to check out. Every time I log on Facebook I see a celebration of the Holidays, and I’m honestly resentful of everyone who is looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas. I used to be one of those people; I’m not anymore. In fact, a lot of who I was before you died has changed. I hate the cold, I hate the smell of apple spice and pine, I hate the sound of Christmas carols. I remember the day we planned your services - that evening I walked into Walgreens for something and a Christmas song was playing. I grabbed what I needed, paid as quickly as I could and ran out of the store before I got sick. The tears were running down my face (angry tears) and I got in the car and told my mom what happened, she just sighed and said, "you'll never be the same again....and It's okay". Christmas lights too - I hate those twinkling dots…it feels superficial to me now. I know that in order to keep my sanity…and probably keep some friends, I’ll need to get off social media for a while – it won’t do any good; for me or anyone who comes in my path with Christmas bullshit. I know I have to put a brave face on for the kids and continue to make memories during these holidays for them, I just don’t know how to manage it all. I think that my plan is to hibernate this winter, stay low key, keep to ourselves, protect our children from painful memories (especially Johnathan) and wake up again in the Spring.
I think a lot about our past conversations about death. Somehow I feel like you were preparing me, like the entire universe was preparing me – I just didn’t see all the signs or pay attention to my intuition. I felt it deep within my being that something awful was going to happen. I even remember telling you one night that I felt like I was going to die soon – I was going to get in a car accident. I told you to up my life insurance. Cremate me – I don’t want to take up space. You hugged me and told me everything was going to be ok. I got angry and told you I was serious, something bad was going to happen to me, I knew it! I needed you to believe it too and take me seriously. I made you promise me to keep it together for the kids….We had that conversation before you left for the hunting trip. I was suddenly anxious all the time about driving. When you returned I felt the anxiety getting worse, but I ignored it…I trusted you that everything was going to be ok; forever. It wasn’t until about February or March that I remembered that conversation and I got so angry at the universe….it wasn’t me; it was you. The impending anxiety of death wasn’t about me and I was angry, why wasn’t it me?! I was prepared, I had already prepared myself for whatever would happen to me, would be. I could never imagine it would be you. I think every couple thinks about what life would be like if their spouse died….I know I did. Just the thought of you dying would bring tears to my eyes and I would quickly shake the thought from my mind. The reality is that the pain we imagine is actually a hundred times worse. It is excruciating, can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t see, can’t hear, lose all perception of reality, a depression so dark and deep that I fear I will never come out the same, kind of pain. Somehow these waves pass and I return to some kind of messed up version of “okay” again. Sometimes a reminder will come…like a phone call, a letter in the mail in your name, or event that will send me back to day one. A good example is, “This is Us”. We started watching the show together, and I know I’ve mentioned this in past posts. But the telling of this story continues to touch so close to our story that it captivates and terrifies me. From the death of Jack, to seeing his struggle with addiction, to knowing that fear as his wife but trying so hard to be his strength. This season really validated how therapeutic the show has been for us. This season touches on adoption; and just like that - I experienced another level of loss that I haven’t talked about…. that I haven’t been putting myself to face until I saw these last episodes. Only our immediately family new of our plans to adopt. A few weeks before you died we had our first visit with the sweetest little blonde haired girl from Colorado come to our home. We fell in love, Johnathan was on board too – he was up for the task of two little sisters. We moved forward. We were planning our second visit right before the Holidays…we were ready to book our flights to visit her, take her a gift, ask if she would like to forever be a part of our family; then you died. Just like that, another dream of the future of our family was shattered too. Making the phone call to say what happened was one of the hardest phone calls to make. I remember talking to the foster mom as she whispered from another room in her home saying, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to tell her, she can’t handle another loss, let me get with the caseworker”. A few days later I got the phone call that our case was closed, due to the circumstances of your traumatic death they didn’t think adoption was possible for me alone. I was heartbroken….not a single day goes by that I don’t think about that sweet girl, what she’s doing, who she’s with, if she’s safe…if she could’ve saved us.
I love you, I miss you, I want you home