The days are long but the years are short.
We have all heard that saying before, but for a widowed mom it takes on a whole new meaning.
Ten years ago tomorrow my husband died. Suddenly. Without warning.
Sometimes, when I close my eyes, it feels as if that day was yesterday. Other times, a million years ago.
The days were long. Very long. When I think back on those days in the early years, I remember feeling as if I was walking through quicksand. Every night when I got into bed, I was amazed that I had made it through yet another 24 hours. Plus, getting into bed did not equal sleep. I barely ever slept more than a few hours.
I was alone. My partner in life was gone. My daughters’ father was gone. There were problems – some big, and some humongous. The anxiety, sadness and stress of those days are something I do not think I could ever live through again.
Somehow, the days did go by. They turned into months, which turned into years. Very slowly, things began to get better. My wonderful daughters and I worked together to create a “new normal”. We healed, and happy days came again.
Now, ten years have gone by, and I have no idea how that happened. Middle school, high school, college. Those little girls are well-adjusted young adults now. There are definite scars. How could there not be? They lived through some pretty dark days. But, ten years ago, my greatest wish was to see my daughters the way they are now. Believe me, sometimes I did not think it would happen, but I am so grateful that it did.
Me? I am also not the same person I was back then. I have grown and changed. A lot.
In some ways, I like the new me. I am stronger and much more capable. I have learned how to be alone and I actually enjoy it. I am proud of how I raised my girls and I am so grateful for them and their own strength. I am happily in a relationship while also having my own sense of self. I am much less needy. I learned I can write, which I did not know about myself before. Going through a tragedy can make you or break you, and I like to think it made me.
But there is another side to that coin. I miss the innocence that I had back then. While my life was certainly not perfect, I felt happy, comfortable and taken care of. I had so much less to worry about. I no longer trust the world not to pull the rug out from under me. While I am good at putting it aside, there is a little piece of me that will always be sad. Life is harder than it was.
Ten years is a huge milestone. I have spent a lot of time over the last month thinking about all of this, more than I have in previous years.
I have a lot to be grateful for. I had a wonderful husband, and my girls had a wonderful father, even if it was for a short time. I have amazing friends and family, who helped me to get through the hardest times. I have the best daughters in the world. I have a fantastic boyfriend. I have a nice house and a good job. So many have so much less than I do.
Ten years. Wow. I hope the next ten years continue to move in a positive direction. The years are still short but the days do not feel as long as they once did.
Stacy was a stay-at-home mom/part-time preschool teacher whose life was turned upside down in 2011 when her husband passed away suddenly of a heart attack. She is raising her two fabulous daughters, who are turning into wonderful young women. In 2016, she started a blog about her experience as a young widow, The Widow Wears Pink. This led her to write for other publications including Huffington Post, Today.com, Scary Mommy, Grown & Flown, Kveller, Modern Loss, Thought Catalog, and many more. In 2018 she started Living the Second Act with fellow writer Mimi Golub. Today, Stacy and her daughters are happily living their “new normal” while always keeping her husband’s spirit alive.