I’ve always had a love hate relationship with New Year’s Eve. An excuse to buy a new outfit and party with all my friends? Yes please! A time to reflect on my bad habits and how much weight I may or may not need to lose? No thanks. And as my husband liked to say, “New Year’s Eve is for party amateurs! It brings out all the lightweights.” He is not wrong. Mostly, it’s just an arbitrary date that brings out ‘best of’ lists (love!) and unattainable new year’s resolutions (hate!). But what I do like about New Years, is it is a natural time of reflection. A place in our busy lives to look back on the year, and reflect on what has transpired, both good and bad. A place to realize how far we have come, and to take note of things we didn’t even notice as they were happening. Now that the one year anniversary of my husband’s death has passed, I’m beginning to feel the same way towards this anniversary as I do towards New Years. An arbitrary date that makes me look at both my weight gain AND my ass kicking widow ways. Should you have a widow in your life who is approaching her one year anniversary, go give that chick a motherfucking hug and tell her what a warrior she is. One year on this planet without your person? Still standing? Mostly showered and fed? Wiser? Stronger? Fuck yeah. Amazing. Fucking amazing. I’m here, I survived this year. I’m ready to slay the next year. I’m not ready to lose the grief weight, but whatever.
I’ve learned tons about my needs, my self care and what triggers me as I’ve navigated this grief journey over the last year. So I knew that what I would need most on the anniversary was to be with friends, family and booze. I launched into party planning mode, and as per my overachiever self, I ended up planning 3 events for the anniversary day. A luncheon with my family and my in laws, a graveside balloon release with family and friends, and a potluck BBQ with friends. Crazy? Perhaps. But throughout this year, I’ve channeled much of my grief into frenetic party planning energy. What can I say? I like a good party. When I explained my plans to my grief counselor, she cautioned me to let myself lean into the grief when it did come. So when I was getting dressed on the day before the anniversary and I was brought to my knees by an unexpected crying spell, I leaned in. It wasn’t pretty, but I survived. I also knew that post anniversary I would need to not be a parent and not be a career woman. So I strategically arranged for my kids to spend the week after the anniversary with my in laws and I also booked the week off work. Newly widowed me wouldn’t have understood that I would need this, but more seasoned me knew those things had to happen!
As the anniversary approached, I felt myself slowly unhinging. Work was becoming increasingly stressful and I was making mistakes. My kids were becoming increasingly insane and insanity inducing. I took the Friday off before the anniversary weekend to do memorial party errands. I came home from these errands with a shit ton of booze in my trunk and a crazy expensive pair of jeans in my hands. I thought to myself ‘yup. Clearly I’m a widow mere days away from her one year anniversary of her husband’s death’.
And as I spent the next two days alternating between yelling like a maniac at my kids and sobbing uncontrollably when they wouldn’t listen, I nodded inwardly ‘Yup. I’m about ready to celebrate this motherfucking anniversary!’ Needless to say, by the time the actual day rolled around I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. But also weirdly calm and happy. The impending anniversary had forced reflection upon me. I was forced to look at the past rollercoaster year of my life in detail. And when I forced myself to look at all I’ve done and how far I’ve come in my first year as a widow, I couldn’t help but smile. Holy fuck. I’m still alive. My kids are still alive. My house is beautiful (and I hired someone to come every two weeks to clean it, because fuck if this widow has time or energy to clean! Plus all that grief fueled redecorating really does look good!), I’m working full time again, I have a boyfriend, I have the wisdom that can only come through a tortuous journey through grief. My inner resilience comes bubbling out at any opportunity. I am rebuilding a life for one that was meant for two. And I like how it’s turning out. Doesn’t mean I didn’t get blind drunk on the evening of the anniversary. But hey, I was surrounded by the love of my friends and we had a dead guy whom we all loved a lot to celebrate. I didn’t choose to be a widow, but I do get to choose how my life moves forward. I like where it’s going.