I know some of my dear ones may have worried about me today, but I actually woke up happy and am doing rather well so far. Last year I had a massive bouquet from our daughters, as well as lots of calls and texts from others. Today, I think everyone knows I’m better. Not “over it” by any stretch of the imagination. I won’t ever be “over it,” exactly, but today I’m celebrating love.
All the love.
I’ve just spent the past few hours looking through photos, and there are so many great ones showing so much love, but I’d be here until tomorrow if I tried to include them all. And I’d certainly miss someone, so I’ll leave you with these, my two current favorites:
David 2010? Who knows, but isn’t it great?
David and Sunny (duh) September 2016 by Clayton Jenkins
Wishing you much love, even when it’s not Valentine’s Day!
I almost let January get away from me, but here I am. I haven’t forgotten you, my dear ones! I/we had a number of significant anniversaries and firsts to get through on the wretched grief calendar, but they’re all done now, at least the first anniversaries of all the hard stuff. I’m officially into my second year of widowhood. Yippee.
It turned out the 26th of December was the hardest one-year anniversary, surprisingly. Neither Christmas nor the 27th was as tough, I think mostly because both those days were spent with plenty of dear ones close at hand. The 26th was quiet and I spent possibly too much time alone, remembering David’s last full day with us, the last time he spoke, the last time he told me he loved me–in person anyway. I still hear him so clearly sometimes.
Then the first couple weeks of January I was kind of in a funk, not that I ever love January. Once the anniversary of the celebration of David’s life (January 19) was past, I started to come out of it. I really think that was the last of the “firsts.” I’ve heard from a number of widowed people that the second year for them was even harder than the first. That the first went by in a blur, and the pain really set in the second year. Yikes. I don’t know if these were people who suffered very sudden, unexpected losses, so had that also to deal with, but the first year for me was plenty painful, and not really a blur, not from this vantage point at least.
So I’m cautiously optimistic that the worst is behind me, not including the occasional stab out of nowhere. Those still happen. I still sometimes weep all over friends at church, and the other day, I felt ambushed at the doctor’s office when I had to update my emergency contact info. That was emotional enough. Who is 100% available to me in an emergency, like David was? No one. Everyone else has things to do. Places to be. Then I was faced with David’s name in the spouse blank, which I was NOT emotionally prepared to erase, so I didn’t. I did delete the phone number for him, but then the system wouldn’t let me go on without his phone number. The receptionist was understandably startled when I stumbled back up to the front desk, sobbing, and basically hurled the tablet at her and said, “I am NOT doing this now! And probably not next time either!” At least she offered me a box of tissues. That was kind.
Mostly since Christmas I’ve been spending a lot of time writing for the eight-week workshop I’m doing in Denver, and at the moment I’m working on a memoir of my life and adventures with David, so we’ll see how that goes. It feels right and good to write it, no matter what I eventually do with it.
It has me reminiscing about so many of our adventures. Since I haven’t been out with my camera in a while, I thought I’d share a few photos of other winter days, other places. Remember this?
Courtney’s birthday was yesterday, so that calls for celebration! I remember well the arrival of our firstborn, like our very own early Christmas present. So glad she came into our lives! Plus, she’s coming for a nice long stay over the holidays, which is more reason for celebration. Here are a couple of my favorite photos of David and Courtney, plus one of Courtney and me, where we are looking scary-good — Thanks, Clayton! You’re a genius!
In addition to Courtney, recent birthday girl, Brittany will be with us most, if not all the time Courtney’s here, plus Bailey and Felicity arrive the 27th. Chelsea and Brian will be in and out, I’m sure, but will certainly spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here. So I celebrate my beloved family. We plan to watch David’s favorite movie, Field of Dreams, on the 27th, armed with plenty of tissues, I promise you.
I’m also celebrating passing the DELF B2 French exam, the one I was obsessing about in the last post. Woohoo! My total score was higher than I expected (but lower than I’d hoped — let’s be honest). Always did love high scores! My individual scores in the four areas of competence were weirdly almost the opposite of what I expected, highest in oral expression, and lowest in written comprehension. Um . . . what? Strange. The director of Alliance Française Denver has agreed to meet with me to help me understand what I did right, and more importantly my mistakes. You can’t learn if you don’t know what you did wrong! Meanwhile, I’m celebrating earning the diplôme.
Also, I’ve taken the plunge and signed up for a more serious writing workshop, one I actually had to pay for and that presumably has higher expectations of me. So I’m celebrating my bravery!
The days are flying by, as they are wont to do, especially at Christmas. I love the lights, the music, and especially, of course, the reason for the season, sweet baby Jesus, come to conquer death and give us hope. Let’s not forget to celebrate that! I don’t know what the next year will bring, but I’ve nearly made it through this one, and with enough evidence of thriving that I think David would be proud. One day at a time.
Thanks so much for all the kind comments on the last post. I send these words out into the void, so it means a lot to me to hear when they resonate with you. You are my treasured dear ones, even those of you I haven’t met, so of course I am also celebrating you!
For her birthday gift, Brittany wanted me to join her for a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in Denver, which was quite an experience — very cool laser-light-show flashing about the place, plus lots of old-school headbanging by the lead guitarist and choreographed hair-tossing by the women backup singers, all equally Rapunzel-tressed, gently swaying, while whipping their heads back and forth in sharp synchronicity between the lead guitarist and the keyboard player like they were watching a tennis match. Too funny. Then to dinner at The Berkshire Restaurant, where bacon is the featured menu item. Just say yes.
Then, just in case the normal stresses of the season were not enough, I decided to sit for a French level certification exam, the DELF B2, on December 5th, which definitely does NOT qualify as jollity. I prepped several hours a day for eight weeks or so and suffered way more angst than a completely optional exam, having no bearing whatsoever on my future prospects in any arena, should have been allowed to cause me. Oh well. It may have provided much-needed focus for my attention and it did give my French a bit of a turbo boost. In fact, I’ve been spending so much time thinking in French, I just spelled “season” as saison, without even noticing until the red squiggly line protested that saison was not English. I don’t know yet if I passed, but I’m optimistic. On verra (We’ll see).
In a bit of excellent timing, the day before the exam, I learned that a poem I had written for my second Lighthouse Writers Workshop has been included in a new community anthology they’re publishing called All the Lives We Ever Lived. An advance copy was being held for me (in Denver, of course), so after the exam, to distract myself from rehashing all the errors I already realized I had committed on the exam (not to mention those that would occur to me later), I went over and picked up my copy. They will eventually be available in stores like Tattered Cover (April, I think). How cool is that? To see my work in print, even on such a small scale (a page and a half out of 200 or so). Still. Feeling rather jolly about it!
Then taking further advantage of being in Denver, I went to the Denver Art Museum to see the Dior exhibit. Gorgeous! Here’s a tiny peek . . .
Dior Exhibit — Denver Art Museum
Dior Exhibit — Denver Art Museum
Early steps in design — Dior Exhibit — Denver Art Museum
So I’m still pretty busy. I’ve continued my fused glass fun, so that qualifies as jolly, even though my results are never quite what I hope they’ll be. I’m still very much a beginner. Here’s the final version of the first one I made . . .
The busyness, at least the creativity, the push to learn more, the appreciation of beauty, fun with friends and family — all are good things. Even the busyness to a point. But when I slow down long enough to listen to the lyrics of a Christmas carol or watch a Christmas movie or even to stop and think, as David was so fond of doing, I’m finding the tears come pretty easily. This season has been harder than I expected, although I had been warned it likely would be. And of course, the news contributes its share of tragic natural disasters, seemingly inescapable hardships, and increasingly frequent senseless violence. Plus, we’re coming up on the one-year anniversary. By 4:00 p.m. December 27th last year, David’s struggle was over. Mine was beginning a new phase.
Sometimes jolly is hard to find. But maybe I don’t have to. Maybe hope is a better goal. I heard a wonderful sermon recently about hope in the midst of struggle, hope in spite of grief. Hope is not an emotion, she said.* Hope is a choice.. . . don’t let our circumstances define our hope. Usually, it’s easier for me to have hope in the ultimate future, however distant that may be, God eventually redeeming all things, making all things right. But hope here, now, and for however many years I have left on earth, that’s the challenge for me these days. I can’t really imagine my life ever again being as good as it was with David. And yet, here I am. So I’m praying for strength to choose hope for the days ahead, and I’m clinging to hope for our ultimate future. Wishing the same for you, dear ones!
Any words of hope you have to offer in the comments will be very welcome!
I will stand my ground where hope can be found. ∼Lauren Daigle