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Year of the Firsts

I made it through those initial first months after Jack passed. I'm not sure how but I did. As life started moving forward again I realized that I was facing the year of the "firsts". How was I going to survive the first wedding anniversary, his birthday, Thanksgiving or Christmas without him.

I decided I just needed to take each first as they came. For me, sitting home crying was not an option. I knew if I did, I might lose my battle with the depression lurking, just waiting for an opportunity to surface. I was so afraid if I let it in, I would be lost.

So, I found my shiny. What is a shiny you ask? Have you ever been talking to someone and you are suddenly distracted by their earrings or necklace or some other shiny object that distracts you. Well, that is what I mean when I say I found my shiny.

I started traveling and making sure I was active especially on the day of the firsts. I wasn't trying to completely forget that Jack was not with me, I just needed enough to distract me so I wouldn't curl up in a fetal position and spend the day crying. Believe me I have been there and done that.

The first few years I tried to keep the holidays traditions for the children. They too were grieving and missed their dad so very much. I thought if I did everything just the same that it would make it easier for them. I think it did that first year but since then, they met their spouses, and developed all new traditions with having to juggle two families for the holidays.

The Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning traditions didn't change. We did what we had done every year. We gathered together for the big Thanksgiving dinner and the Christmas morning gift exchange. Those few hours we spent together were wonderful but then the children had to leave to make the rounds of friends and potential in-laws. Though they invited me to go along, the holidays were still too raw for me. So I spent the day watching TV with my dad until he retired to his room very early, then I was alone. Nothing let's in self-pity and depression quicker than loneliness.

I decided that we needed to re-think how we do the holidays. With grown children and no Jack, holidays just don't mean the same to me as they once did. Jack was the heart of the holidays. He so loved Thanksgiving dinner and the time we spent with extended family later in the day. We would sit around the table telling the same old stories and drinking maybe a little more than we should. As the kids got older we all spoiled Jack on Christmas he was so easy to buy for. He loved his tools and kitchen gadgets.

I am truly fine with my children making their own traditions with their extended families. I remember juggling, two families and friends when my children were young and sometimes it sucked. I only ask that we all try and get together to celebrate Christmas. So we have all gathered together the week before Christmas at my step-daughter's house. We watch the grandchildren open their presents as the adults all sit around the table laughing and talking while scratching the traditional lottery tickets. Having my whole family together means everything to me. Not the day it happens but just that it happens.

So we are making new traditions, and sometimes that involves travel where I may not be home for the holidays. I think my children understand or at least I hope they do. if not, someday they will. I realized that I have to do what is best for me and what helps me get through. They have their new lives and now I have to find mine.

Please look for how I survived the year of the firsts in future posts.

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