Fall is anniversary time for me. October 21 was my late husband’s birthday and November 3 our wedding anniversary.
I’ll never forget the first Fall after my husband’s passing. He died in the Spring so by the time his birthday came around that first year it’d been 7 months since I was suddenly widowed. He would have been 58 but only made it to 57.
I woke up early that day and feeling like a zombie, I walked to the end of the pier where we often visited and left a bouquet of birthday balloons and roses. I didn’t mind if someone took them. I actually hoped someone did. I imagined a down and out person taking a walk at the beach to quietly celebrate their birthday only to find Glenn’s birthday balloons and take them home as there’s. I knew this would give Glenn a big smile. He was the most loving and pure-hearted man I have ever known.
Two weeks later it was our anniversary and then two days after that my stepson’s birthday, Glenn’s only child. Just one year before we celebrated 11 years of marriage and my stepson turned 18. We were a solid family. Glenn taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. He was a complex man who lived a simple life where family and love meant the most to him.
Together, we passionately threw ourselves into celebrating the good times with Fall being our favorite. Not only did we celebrate birthdays, our anniversary but also Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. What fun we had!
So, when my husband died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2013, I decided shorty after that that I would continue to celebrate the holidays and the good times, no matter what. I needed something to look forward to. I needed to find some light in all of the darkness of grief and loss. So, I celebrated his birthday by eating his favorite meal; “In an Out,” burger. I carved a pumpkin and handed out candy on Halloween to the neighborhood kids. I went to the Getty Museum where he worked to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Made a Thanksgiving meal for one and even put up a small Christmas Tree in December.
It’s now been over 7 years since Glenn’s passing. 2020 has been a year that I’ll never forget. I often wonder what he would think about all that 2020 has brought the world and this awful pandemic and how divided our country now is. It’s been difficult for me to spend so much time alone this year. I can’t help but often wonder what life would be like if Glenn was still here. He would have just loved staying at home with me. What fun we would have had. He always looked for the good so he certainly would have made the best of things.
Many who are bereaved suffer during anniversaries and holidays. I get that, its normal. When I was newly bereaved, I would force myself to celebrate because I felt guilty in doing so. How could I be happy when my husband was dead? What helped me was giving myself permission to have joy. I would put myself in Glenn’s shoes. If things were reversed, all I would want would for him to be happy. This helped. I found in those early years of grief that honoring my loved ones gave me an excuse to celebrate. Over time, the rough, raw throughs of grief lightened. I’ve also found that the not so happy memories fade away and the happy ones come to the forefront and don’t go away. I used to worry that they would.
Love never dies. I now know this to be true.