Steven died 11 years ago today and, oddly enough, this is the first time that November 9th has fallen on the actual day of the week that he died since then. That used to bug me on the anniversary; that yes, it’s the 9th, but it was a Thursday morning that our world transformed. It was trash day, the girls were off school because of Veterans Day. It’s finally a Thursday but it doesn’t seem to matter like I thought it would. Any day of the week, and we still are remembering this complicated, handsome, smart, funny, loving man that left this world way earlier than should be allowed. We are still remembering the days leading up to his death, days that were full of happiness and hope. Days that were just ordinary days for the most part, full of routine and the normal day to day activities of a family of four. I look back at those days with gratitude for all the “beautiful ordinary” that I was blessed with. I often think about the suddenness of his death and if it would have been better to know it was coming. I’m glad we didn’t know. As terrifying as that instant that changed everything was, so much was good and happy and ordinary leading up to it – I think that stability helped to keep me standing thru the crazy that followed. And it doesn’t matter – there’s no changing it. I know that given a choice, he’d have wanted nothing different. I think – if he had to go – this is exactly how he would have designed it.
He is walking right next to us and has been since those first moments. I’m confident that he has been praying for all of us unceasingly and has been watching and helping along the way, however he’s able. I know he was sad to go, if sadness is an emotion in heaven, but I know he left knowing I could “do it.” He always said that I was “from the old country”, a fighter, a survivor, a pillar. He knew I was strong and that I could face most any challenge and make it work. He’d walked thru a lot of trials in life with me by his side and watched me take on more than I should. He often told friends and family that I not only changed his life, but that I saved his life. He saved his own life, but I lost years of my own supporting him thru it – and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was so proud of the man he had become and I still am. He saw all of the possibility in this world and all the potential that was out there and grabbed it by the balls. He wanted abundance and he manifested it, for himself and for his family. It was so powerful to watch, and as much as he learned from me, I need to look back at the way that he created the life he wanted and went for it, and learn from him. Sure, he had fear and anxiety around it – and he had me 😉 – but he did it. He believed. In himself – and that is really saying something. Because his youth was tough – a lot of that toughness was self-imposed – but tough nonetheless. He overcame so much and developed a belief system that really worked. With the help of the Big Book and support of amazing friends and family – he transformed and was proud of himself, of me, of the family we created. He’s still proud of me and he is his children’s loving guardian angel.
So much has changed since he died – if he was to show up today for a visit, his head would spin. If I had an hour with him, what would I tell him, what would I share, what’s new?
– We have a Senior in high school. Maggie was in 1st grade when he died and has grown into a compassionate, smart, beautiful young woman. She’s passionate and spirited and loves music just like he did. He’d love it.
– We have a Freshman in high school. Melissa was in preschool when he died. She is funny, gorgeous, smart and could out dance him. He was a hell of a dancer in the 80’s but she’s lapped him. Watching her dance makes me smile so big. He’d love it.
– We have a 10 year old. Hope was not born yet when he died. She was so new on the 9th that I didn’t even know she was on her way. I was pregnant for nine months without him. She is amazing, adorable, gifted in loving, has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met, and is hilarious. He’d love it.
– I’ve had many, many jobs, trying to find a balance between what I can manage and what we need. I’ve worked for a mortgage company, a family grief support center, a school, Amazon, a homeless shelter, a lice removal company, a recreational cannabis company selling pot)a favorite position), relocation coordination company, a seller of all things on Craigslist, secretly “shopped” new home communities with a hidden camera and all, even was a nanny (for one day) and more. Today, I’m trying to figure out what’s next. He’d love it.
– We have 2 dogs. I don’t know if he’d love that. Most days I don’t love them but they have brought a lot of love to us.
– I’ve been in relationships with 3 great men and have been loved beyond measure by them. Each one has been so different and each one has brought different gifts into my life. I have also had my heart decimated by one. No matter what, he’d be glad that I had love in my life and men that saw what he saw in me – and then some. He’d love it.
– I’ve moved from the house we lived in when he died to where we are now. Moving was tough, leaving behind the house where he lived with us. So many memories there, even though we only lived there for 16 months before he died. Moving felt good too though. It was almost like a weight was lifted to be in a place he’d never been, a place that wasn’t full of memories. This house has a room for each of us, a little more space and amazing community fillec with friends. He’d love it.
So much is different about me. His death, and the following years and experiences, transformed me. I am a strong woman, but these years have beaten the hell out of me. I can talk about all the good and all the amazing and all the miraculous. And there has been so much of that and good lord I am so grateful for all of it. But I can also speak to depression, anxiety, sobbing in bed at 3 a.m., fear, desperation, isolation, struggle, abandonment, deep disappointment and excruciating hurt. I can speak to walking my children thru many surgeries, illnesses, syndromes, mental health issues, learning disabilities, traumas, car accidents, deaths – alone. All alone. Just me to figure it all out and make it OK.
When Steve died 11 years ago, I used to say “We’re going to be OK. It’s all going to work out. I don’t know how, and I can’t see it, but I know it’s all going to be OK.” And it is. My kids are wonderful and resilient as hell. Each one has suffered more in their short lives than is fair. I cannot wait to see what they do with their lives and what their children do. I’m certain that they will do great things, be great mothers and be a blessing to this world. I don’t know what I meant by “OK” when I used to say it. I don’t think my version of “OK” resembled what my life has looked like the last few months, but I am still “OK”. We all are. He’d love it ❤️
The night we met Bruce Springsteen and watched the concert from the stage, they performed this song, exactly like this – it was just a few nights prior to this show in NYC. Steve held me from behind and we breathed this song in, a singular experience. Magic. I know we’re still walking together hand in hand, even if I’ve fallen behind. He’s waiting for me.