Friday, December 9, 2011

Looking Back, Looking Forward

I am in the 7th year AD (after Daniel). The 6th anniversary was in November, and this will be our 7th Christmas without him. I was thinking the other day, as Carl, the kids and I decorated the Christmas tree, that I could never have imagined this life that first Christmas in 2005.

That Christmas is a dark blur in my mind's eye. I vaguely remember shopping (on-line, no way I was going to the stores). I remember trying to pretend like it would all be okay, and I vividly remember having to take a cry break in my bedroom after we opened presents. My mom found me and sat with me while my brother entertained Grayson with his new toys.

The next year was better, but only marginally. I don't remember much about it other than as Jackie suggested I bought myself something really nice and said it was from Daniel. It helped.

Each year since then has been a bit better, although each year has had it's tough moments and I expect this year to be the same. I've already tackled some of the bigger hurdles: looking through the ornaments ("first Christmas together", "first house", "baby's first Christmas"), decorating the tree, etc.

Although rumor has it that once you find another partner you are magically healed from the loss of your spouse, I have found that this magical cure is a myth. Carl, as fabulous as he is, is not able to wave a magic wand, erase my past, and make me forget. Carl is my present and my future, but my past will always hold Daniel and I will always miss him. Fortunately for me, Carl has no desire to erase my life before he was in it. He tells me he is grateful for the life I had, as that life and the loss of it has made me the person I am today.

This year I am celebrating the holiday with Carl and the kids. Together we'll be making the many rounds of holiday celebrations. This year more than one celebration will be with the Dippels, who are ready to welcome Carl into the family.... Poor man, he doesn't quite know what to think about my large extended "former in-law" family. They, however, are ready to welcome him, and as odd as that may seem to most of the world, it's an oddity I find comforting. I am grateful for so many things, but today I am especially grateful that no one expects me to give up my past in order to embrace my future.


  1. My sister lost her oldest child - my first niece, Diana - to murder 13 years ago at Christmastime. It took the light out of her and I admire her so much for forging ahead. Thanks for sharing - it helps me to understand what my sister is going through.
    There is so much ugly news going on right now, I have a candle going on in my home office today - just a comfort thing. I'll be thinking about you and families like yours for whom the holidays means a whole bunch of good and bad memories. Take care, friend.

  2. Beautiful!
    I believe any one who will ever love me will have to understand that I had 36 years with this incredible man and . . .we were crazy about each other right up until the moment he took his last breath.

    If they couldn't understand what my love meant to me, it would mean they couldn't understand me either . . .which would me, they were not the right one. That is my litmus test.

    So happy you have new love and Daniel in your heart.

  3. Thank you, my wonderful friend, for a sad yet hopeful post. I've never met your in-laws, but I know I love them and I think they're amazing. Just the fact that they look forward to welcoming your new Love into their family, into their life, proves that they're amazing. They never pictured themselves living this kind of life either, did they? And because they love you and how you loved Daniel, they're ready to embrace Carl, who loves you as much as they do.
    It's a wonderful example of how our lives go on and continue to circle out, touching more lives and connecting with more people.
    True, it's only one step at a time most often, but every once in a while, when I think no one's watching ..... I find myself skipping into the next area on my path. We should all try it .... once in a while. I'd forgotten how much skipping makes me smile.

  4. Great post, Michelle! You sound so grounded and wonderful. I was engaged once, no longer, and reading your post I can really see why it didn't work out. He wanted to be my "all" which was impossible. And my experience with my former in-laws was the opposite of yours. Mine just decided to ignore my life moving on. I "divorced" them. I still hope that one day I will meet a man who can love me and let me be me, like you have. Merry Christmas!

  5. I love that you are gathering with your former in-law family, how special for all. Just because you all have losses doesn't mean that you should lose more by not seeing one another. You need each other more than ever now. I'm sure Carl will fit right in, he has already in your life.

    We, too, have an odd extended family; both of my/our children are adopted openly, and so they share the love of their birthmoms, birthdad, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. I love that they have all these special people to love them, for that's what it's all about in my world. In losing their Dad, all these other loving people have stepped up to be there for them, and I am forever grateful for that. Love one another.

  6. Only three months into my grief journey, your post brings me hope that I can survive and even thrive....someday...the first Christmas is a hurdle that I am not anxious to tackle..thank you for a tiny glimmer of what might be again..

  7. Michelle, this is such a great post. I try to find the joy, I really do .... and maybe I will further down the track. But it's good to get your perspective on your "Christmases Past" and see that I am sitting right where you were on Christmas#2.... and hope that time helps me too.

  8. I think this is the reason why many widows do not remarry. They can't find someone who accepts their past and is willing to become a part of it. At better than 3.5 years out, dating has been a challenge and my age has not helped either. I am ecstatically happy for those who are able to find someone who accepts them as they are after loss.

  9. Wow...I just found this blog and am so excited to read through some of the posts. I lost my husband in late October 2010. I'm in my 30's and have had a hard time finding others to connect with!!

  10. Michelle, the road you have traveled has been long & winding. I am so proud of you and your ability to be so grounded, hopeful & honest! I have known you for many years: before Daniel, during Daniel and now after Daniel (or AD, as you call it), and it amazes me how you are the same person, only having to adapt to the life you live every day. Carl is an amazing man who loves you for all that you bring into your relationship, and for that I am truly grateful! It is so good to hear the joy in your voice this year and see the smile on your face as you move forward, without "pushing away" your past. You deserve all the happiness that is coming your way & I am looking forward to cheering on Carl & you down the next bend in the road you continue to travel upon.

  11. the first christmas without , I had 4 of them, which was something to say of support, but it fell apart, by the next year, most of the support was gone do to attacks, and ending of the christmas spirit, going forward has been a challenge with all that going on, the spirit of christmas was missing from some who proclaimed to believe in Him and share with helping with grief, loss and the disbelief continues, I am tired of not having peace, and being responsible and there is little understanding, but then the first christmas was no doubt not pleasant either , wtih mary the talk of the town, joseph given an angelic intervention to marry her, and leaving on a taxing journey , stranger appearing unannoced, a inn full up and a stable birth with animals around, then later on magi coming and told to flee, only to leave a town crying in pain and loss also, so not the perfect christmas, just the perfect child coming to redeme, if only others had loved him more and realized what had happened to my spouse, then maybe they could of dealt with , instead of attacking. I am not secure yet, still unsettled not unlike mary and joseph who escapsed for their lives.

  12. Such wise words Michele, for those of us who face that empty seat at the table at Christmas,like myself for the first time.My husband left me with with an open heart and urged me to love again but any man who comes into my future would need to be able to embrace my past of a man who gave me the happiest years of my life- Mercia Tapping