Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Survived... A Look Back

Well, yesterday was The Big Anniversary, one whole year since Craig's accident. Before I tell you my thoughts on this, let me fill you in on what I did:

1. Slept in. I use the term 'slept' rather loosely. My knee injury flared up right when I went to bad so I was in agnoizing pain for hours and had a hell of a time falling asleep in the first place. So I refused to get out of bed at a sensible hour. I count this as sleeping in.

2. Drove out to Radium for the day. I love Radium. Craig loved Radium. We spent a lot of time there and there is nothing like the mountains to make me feel like I'm safe and at peace. The new boyfriend took great care of me, acting as my chauffeur for the day. Unfortunately the weather turned south about half an hour from Radium so we had to turn around and come home. That's about 5 hours without a pee break as he so gently reminded me... oops. But the mountains were still beautiful and I still had fun. One sidenote: I lost my ipod (curses!) so we were forced to listen to my cd collection which, because I have (had) an ipod, is rather sparse and rather old. I basically haven't bought a cd since high school. Lets just say, I had some horrendous taste in music back then. And technically still do. Because I rather enjoyed myself while he struggled to refrain from rolling his eyes and merely suffered in silence.

3. I had a nap. Only 40 minutes but it was GLORIOUS. To this day, there is nothing I enjoy more than a good couch nap.

4. Went out to dinner and a comedy show with some good friends. It was fun and funny, the perfect distraction.

Seems like kind of weird way to spend the one year anniversary, sure. But I have had so many bad days and weird anniversaries in the last year that I have learned a thing or two about how to handle them. There was Craig's birthday, our wedding anniversary, my birthday... and on and on and on. I have found that nothing sucks worse than spending it alone, that it hurts like hell when other people don't remember, and that the best you can do is to do whatever you feel like doing, whether that is crying all day, doing laundry, or taking an impromptu (and rather hazardous) drive out to another province.

The rather long drive did give me a lot of time for reflection (most of which I did out loud) and was a great way for me make note of what this year has meant.

Obviously, it started out as crappy as a year can start. March 16 of last year was the worst day of my life, hands down. And unfortunately, there were many, many days just as horrible that followed. There were dozens of days I thought I would never make it, thought I would literally die from heartache.

I found reserves of strength I was stunned to know I had. Tenacity I didn't think I possessed. Resiliance and an ability to pick myself up off the floor, grit my teeth, and fight my way back into the real world.

I discovered amazing and wonderful friendships with people who, despite being terrified, got into the trenches with me to help me through this. I met people who inspired and moved me, fellow widows and widowers who served as both cheerleaders and mentors on this journey for me (not to mention a daily sounding board for my ranting and raving and advice-begging).

Sadly, on the flipside, I also went through a string of secondary losses. People who disappeared or slid out of my life, some just not fitting anymore and others with no desire to be there. These hurt exactly as much as you'd think and were far too frequent. They say grief rewrites your address book and this couldn't be more true. The benefit here, if you can find one, is that the people in my life now are the people I truly love and who truly love me. The friendships are richer and more sacred.

I made some big moves. I quit my job and changed my career. I went back to school, travelled, changed homes and neighbourhoods, and even renovated my new house (ok, technically I just helped).

I forced myself to live way, way outside my comfort zone. I tried rollerblading (not so good for a girl without balance) and pool (I still suck). I even busted my knee trying snooba in the Dominican. In hindsight, maybe I'll try fewer new things this year.

I found an amazing man who joined me on this journey. New love and new plans that transformed me and gave me something I sorely needed: hope. And, of course, someone to laugh at all my lame jokes.

I have found a new way to live and a new life.

As hard as it has been, I have found ways to say goodbye to Craig, to miss him but live without him. I have found ways to survive.

I find my good days far outweigh my bad and this is a comforting thought. That nothing in this life is permanent, which is a a good thing rather than a bad one. Because while it means the people you love can disappear at any moment, leaving you broken and barely breathing, no situation is permanent, it only comes to pass, not to stay. You can pick up the pieces and move forward and eventually things will move forward with you.

So, Craig, I love you and miss you. I know you'd be proud of me and cheering me on through this past year. Thanks for nine wonderful years.

I'll never forget you.


  1. Although most people will not understand your pain and will not experience it, the characteristics you've described finding in yourself and developing over this past year are inspiration for me. I don't know what my future holds - I hope it's a long and happy one as everyone does, but seeing you live through such a tragedy gives me hope that I will be able to withstand any horrors that may come my way.

    Thank you for sharing all of your thoughts and experiences, your sadness and your humor with us. You inspire as you live.

  2. beautiful! I hope when I get to a year I can have as much grace as you do.

  3. Emily you made it through a horrendous year. I know you will continue to encounter some tough days but I hope you continue to have many, many more good days and are happy in your new life. You deserve to be happy (everyone does) and I hope you find happiness with your new friend and all the other new friends you have met and/or kept. Your blog has helped countless people get through their trying days. May God Bless you... and thank you for sharing.

  4. What a beautiful post! It's so inspiring to hear how you're continuing on, and with zest! I can relate - I moved across the country 9 months after my husband died, changed my career and have reached way beyond my comfort zone as well. Yay for us!

    I was wondering if you would be agreeable to having Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation add you to their blog roll where you can reach and inspire even more people going through this journey. If you're not familiar with SSLF, you can check out the site at we offer peer-based grief support with a special emphasis on those who've been widowed. I'd like to get your permission before adding you, so when you get a chance, please email me at Thank you, and I'm relieved for you that you made it past that first year mark. Thinking of you!

  5. Beautifully written. As I am also approaching the one-year anniversary of losing my husband, this hits home for me too. Thanks for putting our thoughts into words so eloquently.