Saturday, December 22, 2012

The One Year Illusion

I guess I thought there would be something magical about passing the one year mark. Somewhere in the back of my mind I envisioned arriving at a year and a day and all of a sudden feeling differently in my grief. I guess I just felt like something in me would "click" and I would comfortably move into the "next" phase of my life. Not so much.

Maybe it's the Christmas season. Maybe it's the overwhelming pace of my life right now. Maybe it's just my own way of moving through this loss, but it didn't happen even close to that way. In fact, in some ways, this has been my most intense period of sadness and anxiety since immediately after Joe died. Perhaps the worst part of it for me is that this intensity has worn me out to the point of not even being able to blog about it.

Last Saturday, I ran a 5k race in 28:17 for my best 5k time yet. But, there's no blog post about my Mistletoe 5k run because by the end of that day I was just too exhausted to write anything about it.

On Monday, I was able to join with my family to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday. My sisters deserve so much credit for all they did to coordinate it from the shirts with the mysterious Latin phrase to the gifts that were given every 60 minutes. It was truly special and though I missed having Joe there, the togetherness did help lessen the sadness and anxiety that had become my December companion. I only wish I had the energy to blog about it more fully when it was over.

On Wednesday night, my sister and Mom came over to help me turn my house upside down looking for a checkbook I needed for my mortgage refinance. We were ready to give up without having found it when I decided to take a look in my old purses and old work bag in my closet. In one of my old purses I found the little notebook within which I used to keep my Christmas gift lists. I immediately became distracted looking at the things I had bought last year for Joe for Christmas and then by glancing at my list from the year before that. Tears came with it. My blog post from last Christmas will give you an idea as to why...


Written Dec 26, 2011 9:45am by Anne Luck-Deak
These last three weeks have flown by and dragged on at the same time. Domani and I have been surrounded by the love, protection and practical help of family and friends. We have seen an outpouring of support for Domani's education fund and have received expressions of sympathy from literally around the world. We have had meals dropped off and ordered for us (including a special something dropped off to us on Christmas Day). We have had some amazing people help with moving furniture, painting, cleaning, wrapping presents, and doing dishes - all in the midst of the Christmas season rush. It has been humbling to see the love poured on us in Joe's memory. I knew it before, but it is a continuous reminder of what an amazing guy we had in our lives.

Even with all of that love, yesterday was hard. For me, it was the hardest day since the one in January 2010 when Joe was first rushed to the hospital. Many people may not know this, but Joe was the best gift giver I've ever met (I understand that is not supposed to be "typical" for a guy.) He was thoughtful and creative and he always knew about the latest technology or could find the most obscure (yet perfect) gift. He knew his loved ones well and that made his carefully chosen (and usually ordered online) gifts perfect. 

Last year he wouldn't even tell me about the gifts he bought for Domani because he wanted them to be a surprise for me too. In addition to some Mets gear and a few educational toys, he got Domani a Curious George stuffed animal - because Curious George was Joe's favorite when he was little. Every time I look at that Curious George I think of Joe and his thoughtful love for Domani. And that makes me smile.

I missed exchanging gifts with Joe yesterday. Not because of the material things I would have received but because it was one of the many ways Joe would express his love. If you knew Joe, you know that he wasn't a much of a talker. But on Christmas he didn't have to be - he always found a way to speak his love through what he had chosen to give. Probably a good lesson for all of us and not just when it comes to material gifts.

In the midst of reminiscing about exchanging gifts with Joe I felt the urge to look in my old work bag and wouldn't you know it, there was the missing checkbook. It was almost as if Joe had led me right to it. Once again, during a normal month, I would have taken the time that night to write about it. But, no. Everything was just too exhausting.

I could probably name 20 more instances over the last 3 weeks where I've failed to capture events or realizations that were important to me. The lesson I have learned in the midst of it all is to be grace-ful towards myself. I can only do what I can do. As long as I am honest with myself emotionally and spiritually, do my best to tend to my physical well being, and make time to nurture the relationships in my life, I will come out ok. I have learned over the last few years deep lessons about what is important and what is not. Getting "over" my loss in one year is not important. Blogging a certain number of times is not important. And most certainly money and things and to do lists are not important. The important things in my life are people, moments, and those things we all do to build a better world. Those are the things I will cling tightly to this Christmas and that I know will keep me going even during the most difficult months.

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