I generally try to write my posts in advance, which gives me a bit of time to pore over them and change things up here and there before it goes public. This week, I did just that, writing a post about the five year anniversary of Megan’s lung transplant, which is Wednesday, the 6th, and what it meant to me.
Then, at the eleventh hour, I decided that I didn’t want to write about grief, or changes, or missing or mourning Megan. I didn’t want to spit out emotions and metaphors about losing her. I want to write about something happy, hopeful, and fun. Lord knows that we can’t just sit and mire in our grief forever.
On New Year’s eve, 2014, I was deep within the pit of grief. Megan had just died a month and a half before. Shelby was at my grandparents, and I sat alone, on my couch. It was a horrible, lonely night, I cried myself to sleep, and that’s all there is to say about it.
On New Year’s eve, 2015, I was goofy, happy, and carefree. Sarah and I took Shelby to my parents, visited with my niece and nephew for a bit, and we headed back up to her place, without a plan. That was one of the best parts of it...without a plan, there were no expectations. There were no hopes to be dashed, or plans to go awry. We sat and chatted about who knows what for who knows how long in her kitchen. We had a beer, and decided that we would walk the half a mile to a local bar and grille to spend some time.
The walk in and of itself was fun. We didn’t have to worry about driving home, or making a reservation on time, or even where we would park. We walked in, shook the chill off of our bones, and sat down at a lonely bar, where there were maybe only 3 or 4 other people. We chatted up the bartender, had a few appetizers, a few beers, and by 10:00 or so, we headed back to her place, again stepping out into the cold air.
She’s already written about this, but we danced like idiots in her kitchen. I don’t even remember what half of our conversations were about, but I remember that they were all fun. We had a few more beers, some shots, poked playful jabs at each other all night, and at the stroke of midnight, we finally opened the bottle of champagne that we had got in Cincinnati, on our first trip together. We casually remarked at that moment how horrible the champagne tasted, as we toasted Megan and Drew. Shelby called to wish us happy new year, and told us that both of her cousins were asleep by 10:30, and that she was the only one that stayed awake the entire night.
We were asleep not long after. It was at least 10:00 the next morning, new year’s day, by the time we woke up and made coffee. Again, we had no plans, other than to get outside. We decided that since this freakish winter hadn’t brought us any snow, we were going to find it, so we headed north and east, where the lake effect off of Lake Erie was coming in.
We hiked at a new place to both of us. We drove around on back roads and looked at houses. We travelled through deserted beach towns, packed in ice for the winter, and had dinner at a hot dog stand.
None of this was planned. The only two things that we were certain of was that Shelby would be with my parents, and the dogs would be at the kennel. The rest was up to us.
Neither of us got emotional, or even had a period of quiet reflection the entire weekend. We were truly living in the moment, and we still are on that same high. I haven’t forgotten about Megan, and I still wish she were here, but in the interest of full disclosure, I think I had more fun with Sarah. Don’t tell anyone, lest I be smote. (do they have the internet on the other side?) It would have been more fun if all four of us were around.
But alas, Megan and Drew aren’t. We knew it, we know it, and we will always know it. We did not let it affect our time together, and even if emotions had come up for one of us, the other is there, understanding and supporting.
Simply put, we had an outstanding new year’s eve. There hasn’t been any heavy grief emotions or mourning. I realize that I am incredibly lucky to have had someone like Sarah walk into my life, but not everything about being a widower has to be about grief. Sometimes, we can give ourselves permission to just have fun and be a happy person. Feeling guilty about that, like it shames the memory of those we lost, is not constructive, productive, or healing.