That is to say, I did not think I would grow, crumble, find joy, experience gut wrenching heartache, burst with pride, and feel like the world was spinning faster than normal nearly every single day.
I have to be honest. The southerner in me is compelled to write a Year in Review letter. I never have, I don’t think, but it’s only been because I never really felt like it was an authentic representation of my family and what had happened that year.
This year, 2015, will be our first holiday letter. And it will probably be the hardest to write, but only because the high moments that we successfully managed to have are still so bittersweet because I feel like they were stolen from Andrew.
I feel like I could try to summarize January through the morning of April 17th, but I honestly have a hard time remembering what life was like then. I went to work. Kids went to school. Dogs were fed. Work projects were completed. Beyond that, I can’t really remember much of anything worth noting.
Here is what I do remember: People scooped up me and my kids, without a second thought, and helped us wake up every morning. Helped us get through work and school. And what really, honest to Pete, gets me every time, is when I think about how there were people who didn’t even know our family, just pouring out love and support. How Maisy’s preschool director sat across from me and sobbed with me, telling me that we were a part of the school family, and that they would help us. How people I went to high school with, but haven’t so much as Facebook friended since 2006, sent messages of support and condolences. How my family, and Andrew’s family, dropped every single thing and helped the kids and I move to Scottsdale. How my coworkers have treated me like a normal human, and not like a fragile widow, but know that life is still really hard some days.
I remember my kids, every night, needing extra-long tuck ins. Needing me to lie with them as they fell asleep. Needing to talk about their dad and how he didn’t like chocolate but loved to look at Christmas lights. I remember them starting a new school. Starting baseball, gymnastics, show choir, piano, and swim lessons. These kids, you guys. These kids are seriously stronger than any other adult I’ve ever met in my life, and that’s the honest to God truth.
I remember finding happiness again. I didn’t know how grief and love could coexist, but I’ve found that it’s possible, and I am shocked and grateful and lucky that I’ve found it. I have so much hope for my little family, and I see so much promise in our future, yet still. It still stings. I remember closing on the sale of our San Tan Valley house, and feeling so insanely proud of myself, and instinctively wanting to call Andrew to tell him that I did it! That I’d sold a house all by myself! But remembering in the same second that I sold it only because he was gone.
I’ve learned a lot this year. Learned that people are inherently good. That even if you’re hurting, if you’re sad, or if you feel like life is too much to handle, people will sacrifice their own happiness to help pull you out of your deep darkness. I’m learning to let myself feel elation and pain in the same moment, unapologetically.
I’ve grown up a lot this year. My kids have grown up, too.
This year did not go like I thought it would.
But I am stronger, humbled, and better because of it.