Friday, August 27, 2010

A Season of Firsts - It's Not Just the Holidays

When you become a widow, it is common knowledge that the first year is going to, in a nutshell, suck. The first Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas or Hanukkah, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries and birthdays, all fall into this category.

But then there are the firsts which are not as defined, but they hurt just as much or maybe even more depending on your family traditions. For example, I was in Cape May last week, and it was the first time I had been to Cape May as an adult without Bobby. I wasn’t even thinking about it or dreading going; instead I was focused on taking a friend of mine who had never been there. But once I got there, I got a horrible pain that hit me in the stomach the way a baseball hits you in the back of the head...very unexpected and extremely painful. I was in Cape May without Bobby. I was in the quaint little shopping district without Bobby. I was going to walk in the Five and Dime without Bobby. I was going to admire the town's beautiful architecture, which Bobby loved, without him. I became sad and introspective, and my poor friend was stuck with me. She gets lots of points for patience.

This experience stuck with me, and today while I was putting our family activities on the new school calendar, I realized that our annual apple-picking trip will no longer include Bobby. The annual hospital picnic that we attend every year will no longer include Bobby. Our holiday trips into NYC will no longer include Bobby. My first day back at church after the funeral was ridiculously tough, and even though I’ve been back to services several times since then, I cannot even get through a service without crying.

Even something as simple as buying concert tickets for a Beatles Tribute Band was sad...I only had to order three tickets instead of the normal four. When is three ever going to be normal? Four is normal for our family, dammit, not three!! I guess we have to use that new normal number for our family. God, how I hate that phrase, ‘new normal’.

I wonder now how many more unexpected firsts I’m going to be hit with over this next year. Maybe even the second year. Whether it is picking apples or Christmas Day, it’s going to be very tough. I hope I can get through it with grace, but if I can’t, I hope my friends and family will be patient with me and understand!


  1. I agree - I think it's the unexpected things which catch you by surprise ... like visiting old hangouts and realising that you won't get to do that with your husband again....

    We've just had "birthday week" here - my daughter turned 8 and my son 6. It was Very Hard on all of us. Father's Day is next weekend and I have no idea how we'll get through that "first" either....

  2. My first Christmas alone, I made a half-hearted attempt at sending cards. Mostly, these were to a handful of relatives and a few friends. They all knew what I'd gone through, so I just scrawled a few lines. Whatever. My absolute worst "first" was my own birthday, less than 2 months after my husband died. If I hadn't been with two friends (I decided to join them, as two of our mutual friends were getting married at that same time), I probably would've thrown myself the biggest "pity party" ever known. I was marking a "decade" birthday all by myself. So, so sad... The "why me?" question was one I asked myself so frequently. I guess we all do.