Twelve years forward, mostly

Another year has gone by without my husband by my side. After 12 years of this horrible widow life, I have come to know what to expect. Only the past year has been different from previous years in so many ways and that has changed how I have lived with the grief of widowhood.

It seems like with each passing year, widowhood has become easier. Or, at least, I have grown better and more accustomed to life as a widow which means I am more experienced, making it feel easier even if it’s not “easy”. But this past year hasn’t been easier. In fact, over the course of the last 12 months, widowhood has become harder on some levels.

Losing my husband was devastating. But I have rebuilt my life in a mostly positive way. Paul has always been there (Paul will always be there) but his presence in my life has changed. I mean, obviously his physical presence changed from the moment he died, but I’m talking about his emotional and spiritual presence. In the beginning, Paul was in the forefront of my mind every waking moment (and in so very many of my sleeping moments, too). As time passed, my new life began to evolve and my way of thinking of Paul changed. I went from wondering what Paul would say about every decision I made – from clothing purchases to holiday destinations – to simply hoping that Paul would be proud of me or happy for me when I made Big Decisions in life.

Yes, as time has passed, my grief has changed, and I have moved forward in this widow life of mine. I still reflect on the life we shared and some days the storm still rages, but my life has moved forward. Even on the days that I want nothing more than to go back to our last day together and hit pause, my life has moved forward.

This year, however, I feel that my grief hasn’t moved as far forward. Indeed, sometimes I feel that I’ve taken a step or two backwards because Paul has been in my thoughts so much more than in recent years. I have missed Paul’s presence so much more this year and I have been keenly aware of his absence – and the loss of the future we dreamt of together.

This year, I have been mostly isolated away from the world. Oh, sure, I have been coping rather well with the COVID19 lockdowns and isolation, and I am aware of the relative privileges I have compared to others in many ways. But I am also more aware of how alone I am in this world.

This year, I have realised more than other years how much I yearn for the future Paul and I dreamt of. And I can’t help but wonder how we would have survived (and, hopefully, thrived) in lockdown together. We were also two weeks away from adopting two kids when he died, and I can’t help to wonder what that would have been like during the past year, but also over the course of these 12 years.

This year, I have realised more than other years how happy Paul and I were; how in love we were; how “meant to be” we were. My heart has broken all over again at the missed experiences. Not just the good experiences, either: I know that we would have fought and gotten on each other’s nerves. Especially as one of us was more of a happy morning person than the other which could occasionally ruffle the grumpy morning person’s feathers.

I still feel that my life has moved forward more than not this year, but I know it’s been a slower year than most. But I hope that I can spend more time hoping for my future than longing for my past in the year to come. I feel that will be easier to do as I begin to re-join society and I have to find ways to ensure that I do keep looking forward – even though I know that I will always look back.

As for today, I will mark these 12 years of Paul’s absence on this Earth with another proxy pilgrimage, as I am unable to travel to his grave. I will spend the day thinking of Paul and the joy he brought to my life. I will think of the dreams we lost, but I will also think of the future that awaits me. Because that is what my Paul would want for me: A future.

Paul, I will always miss you and you will live in my heart forever. I luv ya, luv. x

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