I will not be sorry to see 2016 end. In fact, I can definitively say I’ve never been happier to see the new year in my life. 2016 was a long, brutally painful year of huge changes. The first month of the year was my beloved John’s last month, and watching him die over those last six weeks was traumatic and more painful than I could have ever imagined it would be. Before he died I had no idea how I’d go on without him.
As I approach the final day of this year, the one thing I can proclaim (loudly and with conviction), is that I HAVE survived. In fact, I’d say I’m actually thriving in some areas.
It’s been a very long road. I have cried an ocean of tears, but I don’t cry every day anymore. Sometimes I even go for days without crying. I’ve battled depression for the first time in my life, and fought my way out of it to find joy again. I’ve learned to hold both joy and sorrow in my life, often simultaneously.
I tried to jump back into love too soon with the wrong person and had my heart broken just a little bit. I survived that and am dipping my toe back into the relationship game again, hopefully with the right person this time. People have told me it’s too soon, that I need to take more time. I respectfully disagree. Here’s why.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this horrible year is that life is short. My life (and yours too, by the way), can change in the blink of an eye, in the beat of a heart, with a phone call from a doctor or a visit from a police officer. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us. Today is truly all we have. And I don’t intend to wait one day to live my life to it’s fullest.
That means paying attention to the now. Why would I wait to fall in love again? My husband is gone and, if there’s one thing I’ve come to accept this year (even though it took a little time), it’s that he’s never, ever coming back. He wanted me to move on, to be happy, to live my life and love again. He didn’t expect me to wait a “respectable” amount of time to do that. Living full out honors our love and his legacy.
I’ve learned a few other things. I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be. I’m a happy person by nature and that happiness is firmly in place in my life again. I’m an action taker and action has restored my life this year. I sold my house, bought a house, moved 250 miles, dealt with everything that huge move entailed, and am settled and happy in my new home and town.
I’m a different person than I was a year ago. I’m wiser and more present. I can go a few days without checking my email. That’s something I NEVER did in the past. I’ve learned to define very carefully what’s really important in my life and focus my attention on that.
I let things go more easily and don’t sweat nearly as much small stuff as I used to (I say not as much because I’m still human and sometimes I do sweat stupid stuff, just not very often anymore).
Most importantly, I’ve learned to love and trust myself this year. I love my body, I love who I am, and I have my own back for the first time in my life. I don’t need anyone else’s love or approval to be okay with who I am. I can do that for myself. I’ve surprised myself a few times with this newfound confidence, but I feel like it’s the greatest gift I’ve taken away from this mourning experience.
I think it’s a huge gift. I’ll never say it was worth it, because I would never have chosen to go through what I have this year. But I made it. I’m here, almost on the other side, stronger and better than ever. And I’ll take that.