Eight months ago today my beloved husband of nine years died from brain cancer. He was my best friend, my cheerleader, my parenting partner, my everything. Now it’s just my four year old daughter, Pepper, and I.
On Thursday it will be my 33rd birthday, my first without my husband. Friday is Valentine’s Day. And on Sunday it will be our daughter’s fifth birthday. Her first birthday where she will have a party with friends in addition to family. Our baby is growing up and I hate that my Jason isn’t here to be a part of it and to see how amazing she is. He always wanted a daughter and he loved being Pepper’s daddy. He loved every minute of it, even the minutes I didn’t. Somehow Jason loved being a daddy even when everything was hard. In those moments I often regret having a child, but he loved and appreciated it so much, all the time. And he was so good at it. He was patient and loving and kind no matter what. Some of that could have been his age, he was 10 years older than me. Some of it could have been the foster training he did when he was in his early 20s because his father was adopting a four year old. Or it could just have been his innate ability to see the best and the wonderful in every situation. Jason often said “Go in to every situation expecting good” and he didn’t just say it, he lived it. That’s not something I do. I am very much a pessimist in every situation. His optimism balanced me out and I miss that so much.
I miss everything about him though. This month has been really hard in that regard. Every minute that isn’t filled with something to keep me busy has my thoughts and memories attacking me and overwhelming me and forcing me to relive where we were last year. In 2019, on January 30th, I woke Jason up with a hot cup of coffee like always. He sat up, took a sip, and then had a seizure. He had never had one before. I was panicking and on the phone with 911, while trying to keep Pepper calm and get my mother and my father in law here to help with Pepper and Jason. The seizure led to all kinds of tests and a few days in various hospitals. Jason had brain cancer and an estimated life span of 18-24 months. He lasted 4. In those three days I had my husband’s seizure, the hospitals, the tests, the diagnosis, my first nights without Pepper, my world starting to end. And over this same time period this year I’ve been reliving all of those moments over and over and over again. Tears fall freely and often. I have been keeping myself as busy as possible to try and keep the worst of the memories at bay, but they still get in my brain and they still leak out of my eyes and in to my nightmares. I turned off Facebook memories completely because I refuse to watch my husband die all over again, but it doesn’t actually help because I have all of those moments forever seared in to my mind.
I am realizing more and more just how lonely I am. For nine years it was just Jason and I and then Jason, Pepper, and I. We didn’t need anybody else, specifically friends. We were each other’s best friend and we were together every possible minute from the time we met until he died. He left such a huge void in my life that I can’t seem to begin to fill. I never expect to fill the romantic void he left, but I didn’t think I would have such a huge friend void. I don’t have anyone to just talk to about life or stress or Pepper. No one I can talk to openly and honestly and without judgement. There is no one I can send funny pictures or dirty jokes and I have found that to be one of the most awful and surprising parts of losing my husband. I just feel so alone all the time, like I was before I met Jason and he showed me what happiness was like. I’m afraid without him I’ll never find such a thing again.
I don’t have an update for my eyes yet. I go this afternoon to see if the glaucoma drops and steroid drops are doing any good yet.
We’ve started looking in to a new place to live and I have started slowly getting things packed up. Currently it’s looking like we will be moving in April, but nothing is for sure yet.
I am now using all of our dishes, even the mugs, and I’m cooking something other than pizza for most of my meals. I’m slowly expanding the list of meals I make and I’m reading a beginners cook book to get some new recipes and skills under my belt. So far so good.
Pepper’s behavior has been fluctuating. Sometimes we go a few days with no big tantrums or meltdowns. Other times I spend all day trying to diffuse a situation she can’t or won’t name, but is screaming and throwing things as her way of dealing with her overwhelming emotions. My grief counselor helped me set up a box of resources she can use when she is sad or angry or overwhelmed. It includes scented lotion that she pairs with some calming breaths, paper to rip in to the tiniest pieces she can, post its and pens that she can use to try and scribble on until the whole yellow page is covered, coloring books and crayons, etc. We also have a list of other things she can try. She has really been enjoying guided meditation for kids as a way to sooth herself. She is also working harder at letting me hold her without hitting me when she is upset. It’s a long difficult process and sometimes our solutions work and sometimes she just needs to stay upset until she wears herself out. It’s hard. It’s all hard.
For now I’m putting on a brave face so Pepper and I can try to have a good birthday week even though the sadness and grief are trying to steal all of my small moments of joy. This week at least I’ll just have to fake it for Pepper’s sake and get through the days as well as I can.