Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about milestones. A milestone is an important point or event in the progress or development of something. This past Valentine’s Day would have been my 20th wedding anniversary, and certainly would have qualified as a milestone. I guess it still was, in the sense that it was my 9th anniversary that I “celebrated” as a widow. Not really the same in the way of milestones, but it got me to thinking about how there have been so many positive and “negative” milestones over this journey of widowhood.
There are the obvious “first” milestones as I made my way through all the significant days without him, like birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. As those were checked off in the business of moving forward and living, there were other life milestones that he wasn’t here for: my younger son’s communion & moving on to middle school; my older son’s confirmation, grammar school graduation, learning to drive, getting his license, and first job; our family trips & experiences that he wasn’t here for. All important events that he wasn’t here for. The living of life without him has become our reality, and for the most part, I get through them with much less angst or tears than I used to. This 20th anniversary thing really hit me hard, and I felt much like I did back in the beginning of the widowed journey.
There have been other milestones as well. I bought a new car 3 weeks after he died because my car was unreliable & I had a 7 and 3 year old depending on me. Back in 2008 I traded in my old vehicle as well as his and bought what turned out to be a lemon new van. I had to retire that on-it’s-last-leg-piece-of-crap a few weeks ago, and my 16 year old more mature than his years son was involved in the process, helping me research specs on cars, emailing dealers for quotes & finance options, and ultimately sitting beside me as I signed the paperwork on obtaining a new car. It was a good learning experience for him, but it made me think about how this was a milestone experience for both of us: my son looking after me as he takes steps to his eventual independence and more milestones to come. We have already started thinking about college, which is yet another milestone his dad won’t be here for. Many more will follow.
I’ve reached a new milestone of working on ME with looking inward- I am on a living fit program where I crossed the 325 day mark on my way to a full year and beyond, and I have had small milestones within that journey of things like 30 days without bread or other smaller goals. Other milestones on this widowed journey included the jump into the dating pool, and all the nonsense that ensued with that. I gave up on it several times, and went back each time with more wisdom. I have started dating a widower early in his widowed journey, & it has caused me to re-examine a lot of old unresolved issues that I need to work on. He recently met my children, and I met his family, both milestones of progress that mark the passing of time.
Looking forward and back at the passing of time and important milestones, it can all feel overwhelming. Taken in smaller steps, it’s easier to mull over and consider. There will always be underlying tones of sadness as significant events come and go without him here, but I’m trying to learn how to celebrate the “good ones” with a sense of appreciation that I am still here to be in them. When I frame the sadness with a positive twist, it makes the milestones a little easier to appreciate. So even when I am left to look at our 20 year anniversary alone, I try to remember that I had 11 years with him. Coming to this peace is a milestone for me…