6 months. Half a year. 184 days. 132 weekdays. 52 weekend days. 26 weeks (plus 2 days.) 4,416 hours. 264, 960 minutes. 15,897,600 seconds.
That's how long my Kevin has been gone. Some days it's still hard to imagine. Some days it seems like it's been much longer. Some days I feel like we've come so far, yet some days it feels like it's still Day 1. The simplest, silliest things still make me cry, yet there are times I can talk about him for hours and never even tear up once. Ethan is just now, within the last two weeks, opening up and talking about Kevin frequently. I love it. We've had several beautiful moments reminiscing, laughing, and even, sometimes, crying together. Sophie seems to always have a Daddy story for every situation and I love that she loves to share them. I see more and more of Kevin in each of them as the days go by. I love that most of all.
Like the grief, the anger and bitterness come in waves. I am thankful that, for the most part, the Lord has allowed me to still be able to rejoice with married friends when they get to have date nights, they celebrate the birth of a child, and there's actually a little less awkwardness when I'm the only one in the room without a husband.
We've survived half a year of firsts, which feels somehow comforting, but we also have half a year of firsts to still survive. Some of those being the hardest we will face. I am nervous about them, if I am being honest. Christmas without Kevin? It seems impossible. BUT GOD has gotten us this far and I know without a doubt He'll keep pulling us through every hard first. And second. And third. And however many are left.
It occurred to me the other day that it is entirely possible that I will have more after-Kevin days than with-Kevin days. Yeah. That made me sit and cry. There is nothing in me that wants that to happen. I never wanted even one after-Kevin day, let alone 184. Or 365. Or 700. When I think of all those days, it's overwhelming and I can't breathe. I am pretty sure that is why God gave us the Scripture that tells us not to worry about tomorrow!
It also occurred to me the other day that, if the Lord does bring along another husband for me (again, if I am being honest, that idea makes me want to puke right now), we could celebrate more anniversaries than I celebrated with Kevin. We only had eleven (no, I did not intend to rhyme, Bob Wathen.) That thought also made me want to puke. I wanted 60 years as Kevin's wife. Even more, if my old body could live that long. My time with my Kevin just seemed too short in every way.
My kids will almost definitely live more years of their life after-Daddy than with-Daddy and that is just almost too much to bear. E was three when Kevin's addiction started and I don't think he has a single memory of the Kevin that I knew and loved from before addiction. That breaks my heart. He missed the joy and love and excitement and activity and the amazing man so many loved.
My life has been forever changed because Kevin lived. It's also been forever changed because he died. Just a few changes in this after-Kevin life:
My vocabulary: I do my best to never casually toss out the word "addiction". I may enjoy shoes and clothes and chocolate and The West Wing, but I've never truly thought that if I had to go one more minute without any of those that I would die. That's what addiction does. You truly feel that you cannot live or breathe one more moment without that drug. Your brain has convinced you that you have to choose the drug in order to save your life. It's not drugs or life, it's drugs in order to have life. Chocolate has never done that to me.
I also have a whole new outlook on the word "forever." It means never ending. Ever. There's a reason marriage vows don't include that word, but instead include "til death do us part" or "as long as you both shall live." That's all you get, married couples. This short life here on this old, broken earth. As soon as one of you takes your last breath, it's over. Marriage is done. Finished. Never to be regained. You don't get to just pick up again in Heaven. This time here on earth, that's it. I don't say this to be bleak or morose, but to encourage you to make the most of the time you do have with your spouse. Write that note. Plan that getaway. Fight for every moment. Make it work. FIX IT! This is all the time you get as husband and wife, so don't waste it.
My outlook: While I am not where I want to be with this yet, I am definitely learning that there are more important things in life than finishing the school schedule each day, marking things off the to-do list, and being involved in all.the.things. More is learned by cuddling together and discussing our day, reading a book together, cooking a meal together, than we usually learn in a lesson I force us to do so I can check a box. More time with family, more time seeing this beautiful planet and people God created is what I want to do for and with my children. Less stressing over small things and more getting out there and enjoying all the gifts God's given.
It takes a village just to survive: I mean this with my whole heart. I've lived somewhat in the village, as far outside the village as we could get, and with the village gathered at my dining room table for a solid week. I would take the village gathered any day. We were not meant to be alone. And yes, parents, you are still responsible for your children and how they are trained in God's word and doing life according to His word, but open your eyes to see the gift He has given you in the people around you. They can hold up your arms when you're too tired to do it yourself. They hold the rope when you are weary of the battle. They watch your kids so you can have five minutes of sanity (or go running with your girls!) They live life honestly and with a passion for others and for Christ that will encourage you and your children. You do all the same things for them. Find your tribe and jump in. And don't think they need to live right next door. Mine are in IL, MO, AR, TX, Romania, and South Africa. Some are literally down the street while others are what feels like a million miles away. Praise the Lord for technology (can I get an AMEN!?!?!?) Be real. Be open. Be honest.with.all.the.things. All the feels. All the fears. All the hurt. All the joys. All the needs. Friends, I am telling you, it's the only way. It's raw. It's ugly. It's chaos. It's beauty. It's joy. It's rest. It's a gift straight from the hand of God. But let me caution you, you can't have this deep friendship with everyone you meet, and THAT'S OK. Choose wisely who you let into that inner circle, but when you let them in, go all the way. You'll still have dear friends in several outer circles and THAT'S OK. Don't envy what others have, rather dig in deep with the Lord, pray fervently, then start the village the Lord leads you to start. It.has.saved.my.life. If Kevin would have given up the pride and shame, it would have saved his life. I believe that 100%.
I've come a long way. I have a long way to go. I have a dear friend who is a counter of all things; joys, sorrows, anniversaries, all.the.things. I told her just the other day that I so long to be like her. Counting all the things makes all the things count. And that's what we have to do with this life. MAKE.ALL.THE.THINGS.COUNT. Start a JOY list. A eucharisteo list. Start a list of things you want to celebrate. Or ways you want the celebrate the lives around you. Count the smiles. Count the days. Count all things and make all things count.
Heavenly Father, this life is hard. It hurts. It's not anything like You meant it to be. Thank You for the healing I've seen in my life and the lives of my children. Continue to heal. Bring salvation to Ethan and Your purpose to all of our lives. How do we know You and make You known? Give us boldness to take every step of obedience You put in our paths that You may receive glory and draw many to You. Lord, use our short lives to increase Heaven's population by even one. Teach us to number our days, to grasp that this life is short, that we might have a heart of wisdom and choose to use our lives, our every breath, wisely.