Almost there . . . 9 years

Published on 21 April 2024 at 10:48

Sitting here this Sunday morning, looking at the calendar. Knowing without looking, without counting - 2 more wake ups and it will be 9 years as a widow. The beginning of that 1st decade closing. 

So there are thoughts, and emotions, as well as a bucket of memories, all pounding my heart and mind, my very soul. 

I keep telling myself to just breathe - I've done this before. 8 times before I have faced the "Day".

I will face the "Day" this time too.

And yes, the build up, the waiting, the knowing it's on its way - is actually worse than the "Day" itself. 

The sights, sounds, and smells, of that "Day" 9 years ago play in my mind like a bad movie on repeat.

Looping around and around, with such clarity that it frightens me. 


Early in this life as Rick’s widow many people told me to just keep on pushing – that all the “firsts without him” would be over by that 1 year mark.

And that life would be so much easier after that 1st year.

Obviously, they were not widowed.


I’ve learned a lot of life and living since those early days.

One of the hardest lessons has been in realizing, and accepting, a life of “firsts without Rick”.

The firsts never stop.


Tuesday will be my 9th year mark of life as a widow.

The “firsts” still happen, they still knock the wind out of me.


Life is NOT easier these days.

It is different.

Life is NOT better 9 years as a widow vs 1 year as a widow.

It is different.


In these 9 years I have learned lessons,

I have grown in wisdom, and gained strength – all for carrying this grief, all for living around the emptiness that became my soul when Rick died.


Also, many told me that once I moved through each stage of grief, that it was over and done.

I could raise my eyes for the next stage and push forward.

Obviously, they were not widowed.

That’s been another hard lesson to learn, and to accept.


According to psychologists and counselors, there are 7 stages of grief.

And that we should move through them at our own pace, but in this order – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Obviously, they are not widowed.


Because the stages of grief for a widow is more likely to be – 1, 4, 7, 3, 2, 1, 5, 7, 4, 3, 1, 2, 4, 5, 3 . . .

YES, we move through each stage at our own pace – but there is NO rhyme or reason as to the numbers!

Nor are we told that there are so many days when we move racecar fast through EACH stage – all in one 24 hour period!

But then, the next morning, we start all over again.


People who are not widowed really have no concept of this life and walk of grief – not as a widow/widower.

And often they will say what they themselves need to hear in dealing with their own loss of family and/or friend.


Those who are widowed, me included, grasp at straws for hope and for getting through the hard lessons of this life.

However, Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

So, when those firsts come around 3 years later, or 9 years later, instead of all in that 1st year?

And when the stages are not completed – because you go through them time after time?

Yeah, it’s a heartache that so many don’t get. It’s like losing our loved one all over again . . . and again . . . and again.


All we can do in being widowed is to breathe in and breathe out.

One moment at a time.

Learning to gravitate towards those who are walking this journey ahead of us and reach back to those who are coming behind.

And give grace to those who just don’t know.


What do I say as I sit here this Sunday morning 9 years later?

Be careful with life today.

Treasure the sweet moments - a good cup of coffee, hearing a baby laugh, talking with a friend.

Drink in the sunrise or sunset, or the sound of birds announcing the day.


We are the honored ones who get to see, hear, taste and touch, this day.

Be present in it, don't let one moment get away from you.


One heartbeat.

It can all change.

It can be taken away.


9 years ago today -  Rick and I had had a rough 4 months - in and out of the hospitals, hard conversations with doctors, decisions that we had to make, choices we had to face.

Then, this day.

Rick was feeling good.

We spent the day making our plans for the summer - where we were going to go, what we wanted to do. Primary doctor had just given us the "ok" to plan for the summer because Rick was doing so good.

So, plan and laugh we did!


We enjoyed our food, watched a couple movies, laughed, talked, had the BEST day - seemed all that much sweeter after the struggles of the 4 months previous.


We had no idea it would be our last good day together.

We had no thought that in a short 48 hours our world would crash, and life would be held in a vicious stillness that would just stop.


If I had known . . .


Treasure the moments today -

- - because we don't know.

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