I’m a bit surprised to see that it has been almost a year since I last posted to this page of the site. I think I overestimated my comfort level of sharing this part of my life with the world. If you are privy to my Instagram account, that feed is closer to an accurate picture of how I have adjusted in the days, weeks, months, and (holy shit) years since Mark died.

I can say with certainty that the day in and day out is not as bad as it once was. The deep, searing, and unrelenting ache of his loss has softened. I’ve settled into what I can only call a detente with my grief. I want my husband back. My grief wants to swallow me whole. We agree to disagree. I have a great circle of friends and what seems like a busy life but I am still incredibly lonely. I don’t see those friends often because they are all married with children but the ongoing text threads make it tolerable.

I spend most days just waiting for the work day to end but without anything to look forward to. I might go for a run, and then afterwards I eat dinner and wait for it to be bedtime. Wake up, lather, rinse, repeat. My ability to concentrate has yet to improve. It makes work challenging, but it also impacts how I spend my free time. I can’t focus enough to read, so books and magazines are piling up. I spend a fair amount of time on Netflix, but only rewatching short things I’ve seen 100 times because they don’t require my full attention. I can’t get into new shows or watch movies. I don’t write like I used to. It has been going on for so long that I’ve come to accept it as the new normal. It just is.

I’ve intentionally neglected to address an important part of my life here for the past year, for any number of good reasons. Dating. In hopes of quieting the howling void I sit with most days, I thought I might be ready to spend some time with someone else. It has been weird and sad and difficult and funny and fun and still a bit lonely, all at once. He’s a good man and he must care enough to knowingly take on someone with a situation like mine. But the loneliness lingers. He isn’t Mark and I don’t expect him to be. There are things that are missing or different between us, as is true of any relationship from one to the next. There are still days where I question what the hell I’m thinking, but for the most part I think we’ve settled into a comfortable groove (and the cats like him).

What really brought me back to this page today is what brings me back this time each year. The season of Fall. I am working through a fair amount of confusion, or conflict, in regards to its impending arrival. For the first time in almost three years I find myself looking forward to the season. I want to run in temperatures that don’t result in immediate dehydration. I want to watch football and yell at my tv. I want to wear all of my favorite comfy clothes, snuggled under a blanket on the couch. I’m ready to cook big pots of soup or chili. I don’t feel guilty for wanting any of these things, but I find myself apprehensive about it. Like I need to be reminded that this season is no longer and will no longer be a carefree time of pumpkin spice lattes and trick or treaters and happy holidays. I don’t think I’m capable of being blindsided by grief at this point, but I don’t want to underestimate it.

I hate that my birthday is in a few weeks and I don’t care. When you don’t have someone to make a big deal out of you, it all feels a little meh. I’ve never been one to promote my own birthday, being the center of any attention is definitely a circle of hell (please don’t make me open a gift in front of you). There isn’t anything special I want to do on that day other than eat cake and hide in my bed. Preferably at the same time. It used to be the kickoff to the best few months of the year but now its a knell for something else. I don’t expect to spend the next four months in tears but I want to brace myself for the fact that it won’t be a basket of kittens either. I guess I just need to accept the highs and lows as they come, when they come, for what they are. If the last couple of months are any indication, I don’t think it will be that easy.

My medication doesn’t seem to be pulling its weight anymore. There are some major parts of my life where I am desperately unhappy. I have been and continue to take steps to remedy that but it is taking so much longer than I had hoped and there have been setbacks. What was once an acceptable level of fatigue, sadness, and anxiety is now bordering on unmanageable. I’m going to work with my healthcare team to decide what action, if any, needs to be taken. I need to think about how much is situational. The idea of a major medication shift scares the shit out of me, especially during a difficult part of the year. But continuing to feel like I have been for the foreseeable future is intolerable. I don’t see a clear winner.

For now I will continue to go through the motions. Get up, wait the day out, go to bed. If anyone wants to keep me company on my couch, please do so. Consider it an open invitation. And BYOB. The apartment will be a disaster area because I cannot with housekeeping so you’ll need to leave your judgement at home. If you can convince me to go for a run in the woods, do it. Join me. It might be good for both of us.