BY JILL PERTLER
17 months of new anniversaries
On November 16, 2020 my life changed forever.
And since that day, each 16th of the month is an anniversary for me. It marks another month since my husband left this physical world. As such, each number 16 on the calendar comes as a reminder of the day, of my loss. Of his absence.
It’s one month longer that he’s been gone. One month longer of me missing him.
This month marked 17 months. It seems like such a long, long, very long time. But, in months, it’s less than half of the time in years that we had together. Still, the 17 months feels infinitely longer in so may ways. Even longer than a lifetime. Even longer than 34 years.
Seventeen months of having to make decisions he used to make. Seventeen months of doing laundry for one, making half the bed and having no one to tell my secrets. Seventeen months without cuddles in bed, being touched or kissed on the lips. Seventeen months without you. Without us. Without we.
Instead, I have me. These last 17 months have been time spent alone, learning who I am. Learning about the new me I never imagined would exist, but here she is.
Here I am. Me. I had 30-something years with you and now 17 months without. I’m not sure what to make of it. In some ways, my life – before – seems so far away. Hazy, like it never happened. I wonder, where do I go from here? I think lots of us grapple with the thought. Where are we going? How do we make the best of this life? What defines us, the me after the we?
Is it the 30-plus years with my best friend or the 17 months that have followed?
Of course both. I struggle with my purpose now. I knew it then. But when life as you knew it is annihilated, your purpose becomes part of the shrapnel.
How do I piece together the shrapnel? I’ve posed this question to the heavens many times in the last 17 months. And my husband (I believe) has answered me. To be honest, I’m not sure if the answers come from him, from God or from me. I’m not sure it matters. He has told me my purpose is to make the world a little better place and to have fun. I like that last part. Heck, I like both parts. They seem pretty easy, and pretty fun. I’d like to pursue fun.
And I’m trying. Still, it is hard. It is hard when your life gets yanked from under you. It is hard to piece together the shrapnel; it’s not only hard, it’s nearly impossible. It often feels impossible.
But it can be done. I miss you, Thom. I wish we’d had more time together. These last 17 months have made me so aware of time. I thought our time was infinite, or nearly so. I thought we had 50 years of marriage in the bag. I thought you’d have to put up with me for much longer.
But that wasn’t to be. And in the last 17 months I’ve had to reinvent myself. I’ve had to reinvent my vision of the future without us.
It still sucks. I still miss you. It’s been 17 months. That’s 17 months too many. And it won’t stop anytime soon. I will miss you forever. But in tandem with that, I will continue to live. Because along with having fun, it’s what you want for me.
Well, that, and to make the world a little better place. That part’s going to be hard without you. But I’ll try. I’ll do my best. My very best.
Love you. Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.