I know you’ve heard people say, and I’ve certainly said it myself, that the first year is the hardest. All the firsts – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. Well, following that stream of thinking I should have been looking forward to this week. Cause if the first year is the hardest then the hardest part would be over.
What nobody talks much about is the seconds. What is the second year gonna be like? And what nobody tells you about is what to do on that first anniversary. I’ve spent most of this last week with a knot in my stomach anticipating this day. Wondering what it would be like and what I would do. I had a few thoughts. My first inclination was to stay in bed all day. But then I remembered that this day coincided with the day my housekeeper would come to clean my house. And I never pass up the chance to have someone come clean my house. (It’s like one of my life philosophies: #1 – Never wake a sleeping baby. #2 – Never pass up the chance to have someone else do your housework for you.) So I couldn’t stay in bed.
My second thought was to run away from home. But then I remembered there was nothing here to run away from. (This was something I used to threaten my children with, but it seems to have lost its value now.) My next idea was to buy flowers and go to the cemetery, probably camping out there all day until they threw me out. I just wasn’t sure what I should do.
So my plan was to leave it up to God to show me what to do. I told God I was going to get on my knees and pray and I wasn’t going to get up until He told me what to do. Now, in times past when I’ve gone to God asking for a specific message from Him, it usually takes some time for all the voices in my head to quiet down so I can just be quiet and listen. (Don’t judge the voices in my head – they have a lot to say.) But this time was different. Before I could even get to my knees, as soon as I told God I was going to kneel down and stay there til He told me what to do, I heard him say this: “Live”. It was short; it was sweet; it was right to the point – “Live”.
So no staying in bed all day or running away from home. “Live”. No camping out or picnicking at the cemetery. “Live”.
So what did my day look like? I did buy some flowers and visit the cemetery. But I bought the flowers for me, because that’s what Michael always did. I bought sunflowers because that was our last trip together – to Tuscany where we saw acres and acres of sunflowers. And I bought some colorful flowers, because he always “liked lots of color”. I went to lunch and dinner with some precious friends (exactly what Michael would have done). I’ve had phone calls and messages and deliveries. I’ve had cards and gifts and people who shared memories with me.
When Andrew called he said “Dad would probably be saying ‘Look! Y’all made it through the year! I knew you could do it!’” I told him I woke up that morning thinking “I hope you enjoyed your first year in heaven. Ours hasn’t been nearly as much fun as yours.”
While this last year hasn’t been what I would call fun, it has had many fun moments in it – travel, weddings, babies and celebrations. I’m sure I’ve gone way over my limit of laughter for a grieving widow. I’m so thankful for the friends and family who have come along side me to keep me busy and to include me even though I’m no longer part of a couple. My kids have been incredible in supporting me while dealing with their own heartache.
Most of all I’m impressed by the faithfulness of God. Not that He hasn’t always been faithful, but maybe more the way I’ve seen His faithfulness manifested. He has taken away fears. He has disposed of properties that were overwhelming me. He has given me strength when I was slipping into some bad habits and thought processes (more on that in future posts). He has replaced my anxiety with His peace.
I do hope the first year is the hardest. I do hope the second is easier. Either way, I’m trusting God.