(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.)
Me again. Well, here you are: the 6-month mark. You’ve made it past that terrible, terrible time between month 4 and month 6. Those two months were when the reality of losing Shawn hit and you couldn’t bear the days without him. You kept going. You got through it. You got here.
But what is here? What is the future? What are you supposed to do now?
It’s the not-knowing that’s so hard. The void out there – the rest of your life – seems impossible to face. For six months you have been so inwardly focused that you haven’t really thought about the future.
But you’re starting to think about it now. And it feels bleak.
So you want to know from me that things are going to be okay, right? You want to know that whatever it is that happens in two years, you’re somehow in a happier place. You want to know that the stress of the days is less intense and that there is a future out there for you, whatever it is.
And I can tell you this: your life will be filled with a lot of happiness over the next two years. There will be sadness, of course, and you will not just “get better.” But you will have more frequent happy days, like the kinds you are sometimes starting to see.
And on that subject of happiness, I have to tell you a bit about dating. You’ve just started to notice men again, and you don’t know if it’s the right time for this to happen but you can’t really control it. And I’m here to tell you that it’s perfectly fine that you feel attracted to men that aren’t Shawn. I’m also here to tell you that the first man you meet will not be your next husband. Nor will the next man. Or the next. I am not going to spoil it here by telling you what does happen, but just trust me, dating is a process. And your reactions to the men you meet and the experiences you have will be….varied. Try and be kind to yourself through the process. You didn’t ask for this, and dating at 39 has a learning curve. To say the least.
Speaking of tough things: you’re probably also having a hard time with single parenting right now. I mean, I know you are because damn if that first summer wasn’t downright impossible. Yes, Tommy gets easier, and yes, a day will come when everyone isn’t screaming at dinner. You will not always be falling asleep in one of their rooms at night. The boys won’t always climb in bed with you at 4 am. But more important – they will be okay. In two years you will worry more about whether they get the good writing teacher than whether they know the school counselor. It seems impossible, but I’m here to tell you it will be true.
So while I can’t tell you everything, I can show you a bit of a roadmap for the future. I know it’s what you want. You keep saying to your friends, “if I could just know what the future held, I could deal with anything.”
So I’m here to tell you that the future is going to be okay. It will be much better than your life right now, even if the progression of your emotional state isn’t always linear. But you will wake up one day (and no, I can’t tell you when) and you will realize that you’ve had a string of happy days. You’ll swim in the ocean and ride rollercoasters with your kids and stare in awe at the night sky.
And you’ll feel those big feelings again. When you do, it will be incredible to realize that you have started to really live again.
In fact, I’m writing this from your bed, which now faces the windows of your bedroom. You like it better this way because you can see outside. The sky is pink from the sunset, and the kids are running around downstairs and you’ve just finished off the last of the dark chocolate.
And right now, life feels good. There’s more to this story, but do you really need all the details? You have to go and figure them out. But here’s the thing to hold onto: life in the future isn’t perfect. You still miss Shawn. You still feel overwhelmed sometimes. You still are unsure about a lot of things.
But it is filled with all kinds of happiness. That is something I can tell you for sure.
Image Credit: Stefanie Harrington Photography.