I knew this would happen, but lately I’ve been thinking about then vs. now. Last year vs. this year. Last summer vs. this summer. Last year’s late July vs. the present.

Taken during last year’s beach trip, just days before the news came.

This seems like a pretty obvious thing to say, but a lot of things are different now — while a lot of things are still the same. I am still feeling the shock of her loss, feeling like she is just in the other room. When Will was a newborn and I would take him for walks every day, not a single walk went by without me automatically thinking to myself I know. I’ll call Mare, and then having that sickening sense of reality rush in. I still get tears in my eyes nearly every day, whenever I spend too long thinking about her. I saw a woman in the parking lot at Whole Foods the other day and for the briefest split second, I thought it was her, and I spent the rest of the day wanting to call her up just to chat.

I’ve found I can deal with the grief and the loss on a day by day basis. I can do it just for today. Don’t ask me about tomorrow, but today I can manage. It’s the rest of my life that I can’t bear to think about. Years and years and years ahead of me, every day carrying this weight.

Still, I see evidence that things are changing. For instance, I can now see the words cancer survivor and not want to throw things. I still take great exception to the phrase beat cancer (and also won or lost her battle with cancer), but I doubt that will change. I have a lot less bitterness now. It’s more of a feeling of longing and deep sadness — I remember last year seeing handmade socks made “in honor of breast cancer survivors” and I was angry for days over it. That’s nice, I thought sarcastically to myself, they get socks. What do we get, the ones left behind? — and I still feel that way, but it’s more wistful now than bitter.

I still strive to have hope and joy. I can see those things on the horizon, and some days I can taste them.

Grief, I am finding, is not a linear process. It’s more like a garden labyrinth:

(source)

I just wander through.

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