This past week marks my last first. You see after a great loss, in addition to the unimaginable grief, there are obstacles along the way. One of my fonder people also in this process calls them throat punches and I feel that does it somewhat justice.
Obstacles in the beginning are “the business” – figuring out what to do with everything, ensuring you are honoring the person the way he or she would want, and other matters that come along with a life lost. Beyond the business, as time goes on, there are all the firsts. The first holiday. As I glazed over a birthday that was simply two days after because I was barely breathing… The first real holiday that hit was his birthday. Celebrating that without him was the most intense throat punch I could have ever imagined after enduring such a loss. I was blessed to spend the weekend for a cause I know he understands, suicide prevention. I traveled to the beach, wrote his name in the sand, and remembered him for his beginning and middle, not his end. Then came the slew of other obstacles or “firsts”… First thanksgiving… Christmas… New Years. – not a single ridiculous picture sent my way at midnight with an emoticon wink to make sure I knew even at midnight, that he thought of me. This time I lit a candle and stayed outside with him looking at the moon. Cheers to him.
The year goes by and other major milestones hit… The birth of my daughter. The birth of his niece. Everything seems to march on and that makes the pain amplified… It is marching on without him. He doesn’t get to be here. One moment, one decision, made a permanent absence we cannot get back. We cannot get back the person we want for all our days, all our milestones, and frankly, the person that comforted us back in all of life’s throat punches. A wise woman told me that he is still here, there is nothing without him, it is just my job now to find a different way of incorporating him…he hasn’t gone anywhere except out of my eyesight.
To end the year of the firsts I had my very first birthday without him since he was born. 26 years of his goofy smile celebrating what was once my favorite holiday/month. This day came with so many mixed emotions. Celebrate because he would love that, stay home because you will be a wreck, stay distracted, cancel everything, just go with the flow… None of it worked perfectly but I did my best. Ultimately I decided to spend the actual night solo and get a burger at a joint we once loved to go to. All the other surrounding nights I did my best to celebrate Dana-style just as he liked. As I braced for impact surrounding this “first” I was able to do so with the help of the kind souls my brother and I always seem to be surrounded with. Whether family returning home, friends flying across the country, people staying with you later and later because they are not sure it is ok to leave just yet, or some flowers (just like he used to) everyone seems to pull together to be my shelter from the storm when I can’t.
The last first is over… Or so I think unless you count the anniversary as a first. Or shall that be the beginning of yet again another new normal? Here is to almost a year with an angel watching over me. Here is to almost a year with the most amazing soul being at peace. Here is to the continued morphing of inexplicable pain. Here is to you my Jackson and the many adventures you will see me through… Just in a different way.√