I am in the 7th year AD (after Daniel). The 6th anniversary was in November, and this will be our 7th Christmas without him. I was thinking the other day, as Carl, the kids and I decorated the Christmas tree, that I could never have imagined this life that first Christmas in 2005.
That Christmas is a dark blur in my mind's eye. I vaguely remember shopping (on-line, no way I was going to the stores). I remember trying to pretend like it would all be okay, and I vividly remember having to take a cry break in my bedroom after we opened presents. My mom found me and sat with me while my brother entertained Grayson with his new toys.
The next year was better, but only marginally. I don't remember much about it other than as Jackie suggested I bought myself something really nice and said it was from Daniel. It helped.
Each year since then has been a bit better, although each year has had it's tough moments and I expect this year to be the same. I've already tackled some of the bigger hurdles: looking through the ornaments ("first Christmas together", "first house", "baby's first Christmas"), decorating the tree, etc.
Although rumor has it that once you find another partner you are magically healed from the loss of your spouse, I have found that this magical cure is a myth. Carl, as fabulous as he is, is not able to wave a magic wand, erase my past, and make me forget. Carl is my present and my future, but my past will always hold Daniel and I will always miss him. Fortunately for me, Carl has no desire to erase my life before he was in it. He tells me he is grateful for the life I had, as that life and the loss of it has made me the person I am today.
This year I am celebrating the holiday with Carl and the kids. Together we'll be making the many rounds of holiday celebrations. This year more than one celebration will be with the Dippels, who are ready to welcome Carl into the family.... Poor man, he doesn't quite know what to think about my large extended "former in-law" family. They, however, are ready to welcome him, and as odd as that may seem to most of the world, it's an oddity I find comforting. I am grateful for so many things, but today I am especially grateful that no one expects me to give up my past in order to embrace my future.