One year ago today, I said goodbye to my husband and friend, father of our beautiful son, mother and mother-in-law tormenter, and friend to everyone he met. This past year has been a bit of a blur, though I know I’ve done a lot – managed to keep the house and kids going, work is going well, my health is ever stable, even my love life is perking up. And yet, there’s still a hole that will be forever empty, walled off, protected. The box that’s put away, only rarely opened.
I remember every second of this day last year. I remember waking up in Jeff’s hospice room, getting up, showering, making cocoa, meeting Jeff’s dad, brother and aunt, talking with friends. Jeff hadn’t been responding to anyone since shortly after admission to hospice, so he was quiet. It was icy and I was kind of stranded there, not that I wanted to leave. That evening our sweet friend, James, and I were sitting and talking by Jeff’s bed, the TV on for noise and distraction. I looked over at Jeff and didn’t see the rise of his chest. He was too still. Too quiet. He left us at 5:47pm. There was a lot of crying and hugging, confusion, numbness and pain. I lay in the bed next to Jeff, tracing his lifeless hands, so wishing he’d squeeze my hand one last time.
What do you do after you lose your husband? You pack up your things and go home. You hug your kids. You lean on your friends and family. You attempt to reboot your life. I wouldn’t say I’m moving “on”, but moving forward. Moving on implies forgetting, getting over something. Moving forward means cherishing memories, even painful ones, but continuing to live a life with grace.
You only realize your true strength when being strong is the only choice you have.
Dear friends have reached out to me today, remembering Jeff. I miss his devilish smile, the snort when he laughed, the creak and click of his bare feet when he walked, his outrage at some political happening, his soft-hearted tears shed for any suffering child, his wicked sense of humor, his bravery, his friendship, his hugs, his warmth, and the image of him greeting neighbors in his boxers and button-down shirt. He was unique, to say the least.