The First First - Em's Thirteenth Birthday
A couple days ago was the one-month anniversary of the passing of my wonderful wife. All things considered, the family is doing remarkably well. We are processing our grief as it happens - not conjuring emotions when we aren’t feeling them nor stifling them when we are feeling them. As our family counselor has pointed out on multiple occasions, our family had more than 3 months of grieving the outcome. For us, the grief didn't start on January 3rd. Which means many of the feelings and emotions you might expect us to wrestle with have already been encountered and are processing. We all still miss her and there are days when it's really hard, but we're doing well with moving forward and into our next phase of life.
2019 is going to be The Year of Firsts for the Bentleys. January 27th was Ember's birthday and the first of the Firsts. The party went well, but it was hard thinking to myself, "That was my first birthday party as a single dad for one of my kids." That’s a phrase I NEVER thought would apply to me. But I did it! I did it with help (thanks to my dad and my in-laws), but I did it.
In 9 days will be our second First - the first Valentine’s Day without her. Joni LOVED Valentine's day. Last week when I walked into Safeway and saw all the decorations, I froze for a second unsure if I could continue.. I took a deep breath and kept walking. And then my eyes landed on a large card at the front of the aisle that said “For my beloved wife”. Then I had to stop, text my sister-in-law and share with her what was going on. She and I both agreed that sometimes grief is inopportune and if I could, try to gather myself before moving on, then have a good cry in the car when I was done. And boy howdy did I.
But that phrase feels like it will be an analogy for how this year may be: acknowledge the emotions, gather ourselves, reach out for help, experience the emotions, then move forward. There are a couple other phrases that will be "mantras" of 2019 that I'll share in the coming days.
Thanks for reading.