My house remodeling took exactly 7.5 weeks from demo to completion. Three years ago on December 4 my life got remodeled as Eric breathed his last. No one showed up at my door with plans or contracts for approval. It just happened.
When friends walk into my newly remodeled space the first thing they usually say is "It looks entirely different. It's like you moved into a new house." And they're right. I feel it every morning when I leave the comfort of my familiar bedroom. You go into construction projects wondering what the plans in your mind will look like when they become plans you can touch and walk through. What it will fee like when they become your reality. In all honesty, I was ready and eager for the change.
I used to think in my head about what it would look like to be a widow. I could lay out the scenarios and plans in my head. It's a thing you do, or at least a thing I did, when you live with someone who has a heart in less than perfect condition. I thought about what our space would feel like without Eric in it. I was right about some things, I was wrong about most. It was like planning for remodeling. Some things turned out the way I expected them to and some things couldn't be imagined until we were actually forced to be there.
As sad as another death anniversary is, this is a place that I longed to be. When it had been one month, 6 months, 1 year or even 2, I longingly looked ahead. I wanted to be here. I wanted to be further down the grief road. I wanted the sting to be less. The ache is never really any less, but the acceptance of it continues to grow. For a long time it was an unwelcome guest that we hoped would pack up and leave. Now we've added on a bedroom for it and stock the fridge with its favorite foods. We've set a place at the table. It's just how it works. Those of you who have made space in your own homes are nodding in agreement.
For the most part we are good. Really quite good. Yesterday I cried in church as I sang words that echoed my heart. I do that lots of Sundays. The kids and I planned a day surrounded by friends and activity. My sweet sister, kept me in good company all weekend as we looked onto the day. I received lots of sweet messages and emails. Many prayers were said for me, for my kids and for our families and dear friends who received sad news three years ago. We are not alone in this walk. We are blessed with an amazing support system. Where we are all at emotionally, as we cross this mile-marker, has so much to do with that support. God is good and so very much of his goodness comes to us by way of the people who fill your lives.
Our loss that day was greater than anything we've ever experienced. But we continually find comfort in the fact that Eric's gain that day was greater than anything we could even imagine.
Some quick updates on life--consider this our Christmas letter. About a month ago we wrapped up a major remodel of our living room and kitchen. It's something that Eric and I dreamed about for years. We had always loved entertaining in our home and now it got a little easier. Henry has headed off to college and is doing wonderfully. He's a rock star--literally and figuratively. Check him out on itunes and Spotify (The Aircraft EP). Beatrice is a sophomore at Eagle Ridge Academy and is my onsite therapist. She is wise beyond her years. Simon makes us laugh and that is good medicine for all. He's in 8th grade also at Eagle Ridge. My children keep me going, keep me laughing and remind me that the hard work of moving on and finding joy in every day is worth the effort. I've recently changed jobs and am working for a much smaller company, but still as an executive assistant--I love it. As for cancer, I see my oncologist every 6 months and take a pill every day to keep things in check. I feel great and am grateful to have that behind me. We are looking forward to all being together for the holidays in our new space.