It has now been one year and seven months since my husband died. Many things have changed and shifted in our family’s day-to-day life, and I thought I’d fill you in on a few and how the year unfurled.
We’re still in shock. We’re in mourning. But it’s not why you think. Like millions of others, we’re in shock and mourning for our country, and on January 21st, we took to the streets with a crowd of hundreds of thousands to protest the coming Armageddon. The scaffolding erected on Pennsylvania Avenue looked like a noose and felt emblematic of the death of democracy to come. I wore my pussy hat.
I’ve wondered all year what my husband would have made of all this. One of the hardest things has been not to have an adult living in the house to help talk me off the ledge each morning when I open the newspaper and scream.
Meanwhile, I still haven’t sent thank you notes to everyone who helped us and reached out to us during my husband’s illness and death. It’s so overwhelming. Hundreds of them stare me in the face.
The coldest, greyest month, and often the one during which I slip into a S-A-D funk, punctured only by my birthday and Valentine’s Day. This past year, however, the skies felt a little lighter and happier. I had started just dating someone, quite seriously, and for my birthday, he gave me the painting by a mutual friend that had brought us together. My life started shifting, gradually, from being all about grief and mourning to being framed by a new partner and love. Confusing, complicated, but wonderful.
Thank you notes continued to stare me down.
Our infant son, Ari, was born in March. And he died in March. He lived for 5 days, 19 years ago. Each year, I mourn his life in a different way. Sometimes it’s easier. Sometimes it’s harder. But I always have him in my muscle memory, my body glowing with a phantom pain, helping me to remember for days and sometimes weeks before.
While my husband and I mourned differently, and I sometimes was frustrated by his lack of outward grief about what, until June, 2015, had been the biggest and saddest story of my journey, I always knew there was someone else on the planet who had been there, and who had loved that baby we worked so hard to keep, as much as I had. It’s hard to be the only person now alive who gazed upon our baby’s face, knew that he was the only one of my children who looked like my father, and held him for a few brief hours before he died in my arms. The only person who knew the true depths of my story.
It’s a loneliness unique to my widowhood.
With April came Passover. I have always loved the seder, from the early days, before we had children, when we invited friends and asked many questions around the table, to the final season before my husband’s death, when it was just four of us, reading the story of the Passover and reminding ourselves of our own bondage and liberation. This year, we went to a friend’s house, but honestly did very little to mark the holiday. It was one of those things that, in the second year of mourning, even though important, was just too hard to face.