Friday, October 5, 2012

Dealing with Loss - A Year Later

The name of my blog is a bit of a misnomer at the present time. My life hasn't been very crafty for the last year. It is hard to find the time and the motivation. Although lately, the spark has been coming back. So hopefully you will begin to see more posts and more craft projects, especially with all of the holidays approaching. But for today, I want to reflect on the past year and give a brief insight into what loss looks like a year later. I find writing down my feelings to be very therapeutic. I am just going to write as things come to me, so this post may not follow a very logical path.

A year has passed since I lost my beloved husband. Is that really possible? An entire year has gone by? It has been the most difficult year imaginable, but there have also been many happy moments, all of which involve my amazing son. People often ask me how I am doing and I usually respond with "Oh, I am doing pretty good" or "I'm fine, thanks". But in all honesty, I don't know how I am doing. At certain moments I am happy. Sometimes I feel angry. At other times I feel guilty for being happy. Often I feel sad. And above all else, I feel lonely. Don't get me wrong, I am usually surrounded by loving family and friends. And they are truly amazing - I couldn't have gotten through the last year without them. But it isn't the same thing as having your best friend and soul mate by your side day in and day out. For 19 years I had a constant companion, someone who knew me better than I know myself, who knew what I was thinking from just a look. And I miss that. I miss laying my head on Keith's chest and listening to his heartbeat while he stroked my hair. I miss having someone to share the exciting and the mundane of life with. I miss the sound of his voice. I miss listening to him play the piano.

It is hard to believe that it has been a year, and yet so much has happened in the last year. Alex started taking gym and swimming classes at the local YWCA. We joined our local chapter of MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). I joined an amazing volunteer organization which raises money for the maternity and pediatric units of the local hospital. Since this past spring, with enormous help from family and friends (especially my mother-in-law and father-in-law), we have managed to completely renovate the bathroom, finish the master bedroom (painting, new floor, etc.), Alex's room (painting, new closet, electrical, etc.), put down flooring in the laundry room and dining room, and several other smaller projects. It is like having a new house. I only wish Keith could have been here to enjoy it. We did so many home repair projects together, it was strange to do them without him. The first time I went to Lowe's after Keith died, I almost broke down right there in the tool aisle. So much time was spent in those stores together that I had a hard time shopping there on my own.

One of the hardest things for me has been learning to make decisions on my own. For so long the decisions had been a joint effort, involving discussions and compromise. Suddenly every decision was mine to make. What color to paint the walls? Which flooring? What furniture to buy? Another difficult thing has been learning to ask for help. I have always been independent and used to doing for myself. But I am not Superwoman and I have learned to accept help from others. I am still not great about asking for help, but it has gotten easier to accept the help when offered.

I still find myself speaking in terms of "we". It is a hard habit to break after 19 years. And most times it works, since there is still a "we", it just happens to be me and Alex instead of me and Keith.

It is odd what affects you and what doesn't. I don't have any problem driving down the street where Keith collapsed. I don't even mind going to the hospital where Keith died. But I still can't bring myself to listen to the Classic Rock radio station because so many of the songs are associated with memories and it makes me sad. So I content myself with listening to the latest pop songs that have no memories associated with them. And yet these songs can be difficult as well. So many songs are about love and loss and a lyric will hit a little too close to home and I will lose it there in the car. I still have a hard time spending large chunks of time at our computer store because Keith's presence is everywhere there and it is hard to be there without him by my side.

My respect for single parents has grown exponentially this past year. Being a single parent is hard. Not just the logistics of figuring out how to balance everything (work, cooking, cleaning, laundry, making quality time for your child, etc.). It is hard shouldering all of the responsibility for your child. Am I doing enough? Am I letting him watch too much TV? Am I feeding him a well-balanced diet? Is he happy? Am I teaching him enough? Am I showing him enough love to make up for the fact that his Daddy is no longer here? And it is terribly frightening when your child is sick and there is no one there to calm your fears and make rational observations.

I have come to hate the number 5 over the last year. Every time the 5th came up on the calendar was a reminder of my loss. 2 months since Keith died, 5 months since I lost my best friend, 8 months since Alex lost his father. A constant reminder of everything missing from our lives staring at me from the pages of the calendar.

Not a day goes by that I do not think about Keith and miss him with all of my heart. He makes his way into conversations on a regular basis. How could he not? He was a part of my life for longer than he wasn't. Any story I tell from the last 20 years is likely to feature him in some way. So it feels very natural to talk about him.

I get most upset when I think about Alex and what he is missing out on. I had 19 wonderful, amazing years with Keith. Not enough, surely, but I do have many, many memories to sustain me. Alex was less than 2 years old when he lost his Daddy. He will never have the chance to create memories with Keith. And I am so incredibly sad for what Keith is missing out on. He isn't here to see what an amazing child Alex is. He isn't here to take Alex trick-or-treating or watch him chase the cat around the house.

Today I will surround myself with my loved ones and try to make it through the day. Keith always told me I was stronger than I realized and this past year has put that to the test. I am still standing and I will continue to be strong for Alex. There really isn't a choice. That is what needs to be done.

I miss you, Keith.