Like many people I was happy to see 2016 go. I’ve seen the memes that 2016 was written by George R.R. Martin and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The amount of loss that 2016 brought across the board was staggering. From beloved artists, musicians, actors and public figures, to countless not famous people whose departure from this world left wounds of grief just as deep if not as wide felt, 2016 will be the year that the world mourned together.
And it wasn’t just death, though there seemed to be a lot of it. 2016 was ugly. It was filled with conflict. Terrorist attacks around the world, the Miami nightclub attack, racism, sexism, attacks on police, scandals, and that is without even getting into politics. There were moments in 2016 when I looked at the state of the human race and actually thought to myself “at least my husband doesn’t have to see this”.
I’m sure 2016 was a great year for some. To me it will always be the year my husband died. On February 17, 2016 my entire world shattered in an instant and my whole future disappeared as I knew it. And time started over.
So I rang in the beginning of 2017 without that fresh new year feeling of hope and a fresh page to start a new chapter. The Shaughnessy calendar no longer begins on January 1st. Instead it is as if I am approaching 11 months into year 1 A.D. and this time the A.D. does stand for after death. My therapist refers to it as “the year of firsts”. The first time handling any special date, anniversary, holiday, or even just simple stuff like the kickoff of football season is brutal without them there. My hope is each time you have to face it again down the road, maybe it will suck just a little bit less.
But I do feel as if I am almost to that new year hope. February is fast approaching, and I’ve made it through my first set of holidays without him. All that is left is Valentine’s Day and then it will be his one year anniversary. In my head that is my light at the end of the tunnel, that is my new year approaching. When I think of “resolutions” or goals I have for myself personally, in my head they are for after I get through the 1 year mark.
My goal for year 1 A.D. was just to survive. To somehow put one foot in front of the other. Don’t get fired. Stay out of jail. Shower routinely. But also to feel every gut wrenching bit of it. Don’t numb it with booze or drugs or food or sex. Don’t ignore it by pretending everything is fine. Cry. Talk about it. Write about it. Cry some more.
I’m not saying that after the year of firsts is over I will be fine, or that somehow grief will go away. I’m sure it will never go away, and it will still be really hard. But I will have survived an entire year without him when I wasn’t sure in the beginning how I’d make it through each hour. The doubt of “Omg how am I going to get through this?” can be answered with “The same way you did last time”. To me that is at least something to find comfort in.
For the absolute worst year of my life, year 1 A.D. has also seen a lot of good moments. I’ve laughed a lot more than I ever thought possible. I’ve traveled a ton. I started a new job. I’ve met new people and I’ve embraced the overwhelming love and support from my friends and family. I’ve created so many new amazing memories along the way, just like he’d have wanted me to. But just like 2016, I won’t be sad to see it go soon, and when that happens I’ll wish everyone a Happy New Year.