(In this series, I write letters to myself at three different time periods: 1 month after Shawn died, 6 months after Shawn died, and a year after Shawn died. This is what I wish I could have known.)
Hey – it’s me. Yes, it’s your future self, the person you’ll be two-and-a-half years from now.
No, I cannot tell you everything about your future. But I’d like to talk to you a little bit about how things are going right now.
It still doesn’t seem real, does it? Shawn was just alive. He was at Austin’s baseball game just a few months ago in November, but he’s missing all of his basketball games now that it’s winter. He was just here, taking family photos. How is he gone now? I know that it hits you like a ton of bricks every morning – the realization that he is really, truly gone.
Here’s what I can tell you now. There will come a day when you wake up, and don’t feel a lead weight in your chest when you realize that Shawn is not beside you. You will never stop missing him, but the heaviness of every morning will lift.
And you will miss it.
I know. All you want right now is for something – anything – to be easier. If you could do something to make getting out of bed easier, I know you’d do it. I know you want to be able to take a shower without crying. I know you want to be able to go out to brunch with your friends without feeling like you’re going to gag on your food. I know you want to be able to watch your kids do something adorable without choking back sobs.
I know you want it to be easier. So I’m here to tell you this – it will be. Not immediately, but someday, it will be easier. I promise.
And you will miss the pain.
I’m not saying that anyone wants to live in the early days of grief. I’m far away from those days now and I have no desire to ever live through them again. (Hear that, loved ones? No dying. But I digress.) What I do know is that when the early grief fades and you’re able to move through life with a little more ease, you will feel less tied to Shawn. He will never fully be gone from your life. But you will feel a piece of him slipping away from you.
This will be hard, but it means that you are starting to heal. No, you will not ever forget what his laugh sounded like, and years later you can still recall an almost perfect image of his reaction to a funny story that someone told at a backyard party. You will not forget everything, I promise.
But the day will come when the pain is less intense. It will not be even, and you will have days that feel just as bad as these early days even after a year has passed. But they will be less frequent, and you will be able to make it through them with a degree of grace.
You will miss these early days because they were the time when you were the most connected to Shawn. When your every thought was of him. When you couldn’t imagine how a day passed without him in it. When he was your everything.
Right now, there is little I can tell you to ease your pain. You have to simply get through each day, one day at a time. Remember that every single day is a win once you get to the end of it. Pat yourself on the back if you manage to eat a full meal or read an entire story to the kids or have a 10-minute conversation with anyone.
Go easy on yourself. These days are the worst. But let yourself feel all the emotions, because this is the last time you’ll get to feel this way. Yes, I said, “get” to feel this way. Someday, this grief will be so different that it will be hard to remember what the early days were like. The days – the ones that you’re living right now – those were awful days. But they were beautiful too, because they were all about Shawn.
I can’t tell you the future, but I can tell you this: it gets easier. The grief changes. You change.
Oh, and Tommy does get potty trained, eventually. See? I didn’t hold everything back!
Love, Marjorie in the summer of 2020
Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.