365 days (or Just In Case)

You mean so much to me, and it’s important that I tell you this now. I love you. I need to tell you I love you every time we part, just in case I don’t get the opportunity to say it to you again.

This is a new paranoia — One that only those who have suddenly lost someone to horrific circumstances may be able to comprehend. The last 365 days have somehow dragged in time yet disappeared in a flash, as I find myself at the one year mark of my loving husband Sean’s death.

Why do we as a society celebrate death anniversaries? Why do we torture ourselves by keeping a mental tally of all the years we continue “living” without them? June 23, 2016, 2:43AM is timestamped in my memory. All the traumatic hours leading up to that time are upsettingly clear in my mind. What a cruel curse.

What’s worse is that with time comes foggy memories. While I welcome the chance to forget the night of Sean’s death, I worry that the exchange rate is our happier memories fading. I worry that as time wears on and he sinks further down my text message threads, further down my social media feed, he’ll sink further down into my memories. I worry that eventually I’ll remember things wrong or completely forget them, so I hold on to everything. Photos, videos, T-shirts, notebooks with his handwriting, toiletries, yo-yo’s. I’m not ready to let go, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be.

Without question, each day bears the constant of missing my husband, in every which way you can miss another human being. Most days are spent wishing that the universe had granted us more time together. Frequently, especially when left to my own devices, my days consist of obsessing over the ways I could have possibly prevented his heart from stopping in the middle of the night.

Sean was my rock, my best friend, my emergency contact, my king and my lion-hearted love. Having him in my life — loving him and knowing that he loved me — made everything better. He was young and kept me young. While he’s probably in a different astral plane, partying it up with other prestigious members of The 27 Club, I’m stuck here quickly going gray, abandoning way too many unopenable jars and hugging a box of his ashes with fleeting hope I’ll get at least 4 hours of sleep.

Sean and I created so many beautiful memories together. He was and very much still is everything to me. I miss how he'd say, “You got this,” whenever I had a presentation or an interview or anything where I would have to expose some sort of vulnerability to the outside world. He's the only one who could calm my anxious brain with just his touch. I miss how he'd celebrate with me when something would go right and I miss how he'd say, “Can't win ‘em all,” when I was off my game. His parents remind me all the time that I helped Sean to be more confident, but it was mutual. He helped me be a better person and feel more comfortable in my own skin simply because he loved who I was in my oh so awkward skin, at my best and at my worst.

The past 365 days have been challenging and that’s candy-coating a lot.

My life now experiences frequent flooding, the emotional kind. I keep an endless supply of tissue at my house and in my car because I can’t predict when a flood will come. Triggers are everywhere. One minute I’m watching Jane the Virgin to see what new shit Rogelio gets into and the next, I’m on the floor because of an emergency room scene. The entire Lana Del Rey “Born To Die” album. The Ghostbusters reboot, for some reason. Eating Chick-fil-A while watching an episode of Golden Girls. Ordering take-out and realizing my order history is full of two-person meals and this is entirely too much food for just me tonight. Sometimes, I go until my face is dehydrated. That’s why I keep the tissues. Just in case.

I am so grateful for my ride-or-dies, my family, my old friends and the new friends I’ve made along my “grief journey.” From text message check-ins to condolence cards to random cat memes to traveling great distances just to spend time with me and everything in between, thank you for your love, thoughts, prayers and support the last 365 days. You are now all my rocks and my emergency contacts. You mean so much to me and I love you and it’s important that I tell you now. Just in case.