Grief has changed my perception of time. Ever since Phil died I have found myself wondering each New Year's Eve where the last year has gone, and some years wondering how I managed to survive the waves and sucker punches that grief delivered on a very regular basis throughout the previous year. And yet I have survived: one year, one month, one day, one minute at a time to find my way in this strange new world missing many of the certainties that provided the basis for life as I once knew it.
On New Year's Eve 2005 I was certain that Phil and I would have many, many years together. Life has since taught me otherwise. Not long ago I would have told you with certainty that even though I was happily married, my identity was not dependent on my marital status. After Phil died the only thing I wanted was to be half of a whole, being an independent woman was suddenly no longer desirable. Once upon a time I was a person with a ten year plan. This blueprint took for granted the fact that the main players would be alive to carry out the prescribed steps, and to enjoy the fruits of their labor. An exit strategy was never part of my grand scheme.
What I have come to accept is the fact that life is full of uncertainties. But there are some things that do not change, even when the world turns upside down. Love always matters. No one will remember what you wore to the party, but they will remember whether or not you greeted them warmly. Harsh words last for a very long time. Small kindnesses can never be accurately valued. We are each better and more resilient than we think. Every parent wishes their kids came with an instruction manual. Losing someone you love scars you forever, and that is not a bad thing. People are flawed. Hope is contagious. Courage can become a daily habit. Giving often benefits the giver more than the receiver. Life isn't a spectator sport. Actions do speak louder than words. The people we love change us, and we change them.
These are the things I know for sure. I no longer make resolutions that come with time lines. Instead I resolve to remember the lessons that loving and losing Phil have taught me. Because mixed in with the trauma and the pain is a beautiful story of love and hope. Life may not be what I planned, but it is still what I make of it.