This July 13th will be the 5-Year mark. 5 years since my beautiful husband Don, left for work, and never came home. 5 years since I got that terrible bone-chilling phone call that jarred me awake at 6:30 am, and changed my life forever. 5 years that I have been a widow. In addition to this being my fifth year of widowhood, it also brings with it some other heavy milestones.
The 5-year death anniversary day will actually fall on a Wednesday for the first time – which is, of course, the day of the week that he died. And as of April 13th, just a few weeks ago, I have now been a widow for longer than I was married. On April 13th, Don had been dead 4 years and 9 months, and I was married exactly 4 years and 9 months. That reality felt and continues to feel so incredibly sad to me.
Also, this coming October, will be the “would have been 10 years” wedding anniversary. I can already feel that one churning my insides and hurting like hell. So, this whole “5 Years” thing feels like a pretty big deal. It just FEELS big in every single way. It feels emotional on so many levels. It feels like a giant shift in something, or like it should be a giant shift in something. Im feeling a lot of push and pull – old life, new life. That life, this life. This 5-year thing is really doing a number on my brain cells. I feel exhausted just from thinking so deeply about how much being widowed for 5 years has affected my entire being. Here are just a few of the things that I’m feeling as this 5-year mark approaches. Maybe some of you who are here now or who have already been here, can relate. I call it the 5-Year Itch ……
1. RESTLESSNESS. I feel restless. Like every single thing in my life is suddenly up in the air, and I’m completely unsure about everything. I am questioning everything this year. My current job situation, my living situation, even considering leaving NYC for good, which I always said I could never ever do, but everything feels like it’s time for a change, but a change to WHAT, I have no idea. I’m restless and bored and sort of walking away from things that don’t feel like they are feeding my soul or challenging me anymore. I have this need to live a life with more meaning, and I no longer feel ties to anywhere that I am. It is a very odd feeling. I have trouble sitting still lately, but when I get up to move, I don’t seem to know what to do with myself. I find myself just wandering from room to room, day to day, and week to week, searching for something that seems to be forever invisible. What the hell am I looking for???
2. PROFOUND. My relationship with my dead husband feels different. It has for awhile now, but this year especially. This year, I feel like I can actually really feel him around me … his energy, helping me, guiding me, sending me signs and putting people into my path to help me live, and just this strong feeling that we are still a team and always will be. He is still my teammate, but now he’s more like a life coach who just keeps attempting to show me the way. When I miss him, which is all the time of course, even that feels different. Our whole relationship feels more profound.
3. CONNECTED. I feel connected to everything in a way I never have before, like this huge realization over and over that we are all somehow connected in the universe – and yet – a lot of the very early feelings of grief from YEAR ONE are sneaking up on me again, out of nowhere, or when I feel like Ive just “lost” someone or something.
4. CHANGES. I keep having this feeling , like, SOMETHING NEEDS TO HAPPEN, or I need to make something happen. Something different. Something big. I can’t even explain it. Just this weirdly intense urge to kick things up a notch.
5. LETTING GO OF UNHELPFUL PEOPLE. I’m letting people and things fade out of my life, that no longer fit into my life. I no longer care nearly as much what other people think about how I cope or grieve, and I have no problem letting you go if I don’t feel like you’re someone who is helpful in my life. This is REALLY weird for me, because I’ve never been that way before, but this year, I am.
6. ITS NO LONGER OKAY WITH ME THAT I COULD BE ALONE FOREVER. I am more saddened and terrified at the idea of “being alone for the rest of my life” than I ever have been before. For 4 years after Don’s death, I told myself and convinced myself that I no longer needed love in my life anymore, and that my time for that was up. In year 5, the lonely factor has been kicked up big-time. Maybe its because I went 4 years with nothing, in terms of dating and relationships. Maybe its because Im just getting older and thinking about this kind of stuff. Or maybe after 4 years of sitting home alone on Saturday nights with my cats, Im just over it. But for whatever reason, I do NOT want to be alone anymore. Especially when I’m old. I do not want to live the rest of my life ALONE. I want a partner to go through the horrible scary painful stuff with, and to create new moments with. Spending the rest of my days alone is no longer acceptable in my heart, and I know my husband doesnt want me to be all alone with nobody to protect me, keep me safe, and help me through life. I know how to be alone. I did it for years before I met Don, and Ive done it for the past almost 5 years without him. I dont want to do it anymore. It scares me just thinking about it.
7 OPENNESS. I am SO much more open to new things, new types of people, new plans, NO plans, just trying something, seeing how it feels, whatever. I find that I no longer have any expectations about most things, good or bad, and I just sort of take things day by day with no real idea of whats coming next. This is terrifying and not at all natural for me, but also just the way it is.
8. LOSING PIECES. I feel like there are now more things in my life that are NOT connected to Don, than things that ARE connected to Don. This scares me. I hate it. It saddens me. I fear that I will keep losing pieces of him as the years go on. I find that I continue to look for things , people, and ways of staying connected to him always. Anyone who is connected to him in some way, I automatically feel a connection TO. I want to live life now much more than I want to die, but I want Don to come with me, and I always feel like he is slowly fading into the background, just out of reach. I don’t want that to ever happen, but I fear it every day.
These are just some of the strange emotions I have been having during year 5 of this weird new life. Im not sure what any of it means, or if it means anything at all. All I know is that this 5th year feels different and strange and surreal, in every single way imaginable. I will say that I do feel a lot of growth, a lot of healing, and a lot of changes within me, for the better. I am much more able to focus on the love, and have mostly started to let go of the guilt, the anger, and the intense pain that comes from holding on to all of those things. These days, I just miss him with the fierceness of a billion suns, and I know I always will. But I also know now, that he comes alive and stays alive within me and in the universe, each and every time that I say YES to more life.