Thursday, May 21, 2015

Turning Corners

My friend Margaret just had her second angelversary the other day, on the 17th. I never knew her fit, beautiful husband Dave, who died unexpectedly of a stroke way to early, at age 50; I wish I had, but I am incredibly blessed now to know Margaret. It so happens that Mike also died on a 17th, so through the past two years we have made note of this date together many times, though as our lives have gotten busier again we’ve started to miss connecting on a few. But two years is a big one - we can’t help but remember what was happening on that date and that will probably never change. No matter what else is going on in our “after-lives”, those days still bring the grief roaring up.

I’m three months ahead of her so for me this past 17th was 27 months - or two years and three months. I’m not really sure how to count it now; do we measure time as if we’re telling the age of a toddler, in months? At what point do we start saying it in years? Years makes it sound long…but 27 months is 819 days. In days it doesn’t seem very long at all. After Mike died I figured out that we had been together for 5040 days. That didn’t seem very long at all either for an entire marriage, though I’m grateful for every single day we had, good or bad.

This past 17th at the shop where I work I was chatting with some customers who were from Mike’s home town. I found myself relating some of his memories of the place, and then of course the question came, what he’s doing now…well he passed away over two years ago now, I heard myself saying. After they left I pondered how I felt joy in passing on a few memories of his, as well as a bright description of my playful, special husband. And how I glazed over the timing of his death. In that moment, with those people, it didn’t seem necessary to be more specific but it was indeed exactly 27 months to the day.

After you lose someone close to you and people say things like, well, time will heal, you want to shoot them in the head. For me, time itself has not healed. It does change things - there is no way around that. But my grief now feels more like of like a see-saw of emotions…some days it seems easier, others are very much harder, even regardless of the day of the month or how long it’s been. I was talking to my stepdaughter the other day and we agreed that our discussions and mentions of Mike have changed as time has gone on. Sometimes we feel as if we’ve turned a corner in some sense in terms of coming to grips with the fact that he’s no longer with us. Then something else will happen that will drag us backwards again for awhile.

We are perhaps now forever embedded with certain triggers that can set off at any moment, without warning. I can work towards creating my “new normal” we all talk so much about, and then find myself sitting and staring into space, caught up in a memory or feeling I didn’t expect to land on me in that moment. Sometimes I’m surprised the tears don’t come; other times they arrive suddenly.

I can keep turning corners, so to speak, but after a few turns I often find myself standing somewhere that seems suspiciously familiar to the place where I started this journey. The changes I’ve gone through since Mike died have made it so I have other things in my head to think about; other tasks, thoughts, relationships, faces, plans…the grief is not alone in there anymore like it was those first dreadful months, so it does have to fight to be on top now. But it doesn’t go away. I feel as if it will always be lurking around that next corner, though I will try and keep turning them anyway.


  1. Hi Stephanie, once again, I totally related to your post. I am at 45 months out or almost 3 1/2 years - my husband died on the last day of 2011 and perversely that makes it too easy to count the months/years. Sometimes I wonder if I will ever stop counting the months. What I do know now, is that even when I think I have settled into some sort of life without him, his absence makes itself known in so many ways. I recently drove a far distance, alone, to pick my daughter up from college for summer break. In my "before" life I never could have fathomed having to do this alone. Another step forward, with him encouraging me all the way. My new mantra is resolve to, not resign to.

    1. I like that - resolve, not resign. I guess we all continue to find ways to survive it all as the time marches on. Thank you for sharing.

  2. so agree!!! the love of my life would never let me drive anywhere alone... too dangerous... he would be so surprised to see me driving to Colorado and back to visit our family..... thank you for sharing....

  3. I'm approaching the 2yr date. I hate this, I find myself slipping in and out of emotions. On some level I know I should be happy for the time we had together and celebrate that, but on another level I just feel cheated for the years we had planned ahead. There are moments when it still doesn't seem real that he is gone.