Every time there's a knock on the door, the doorbell rings or there's a pan left on your doorstep covered in aluminum, you know exactly what to expect. Casserole. Lasagna, spinach, or maybe if you're lucky, scalloped potatoes and ham. With it reads a note similar to "I am so sorry for your loss. If there's anything else you need, let me know."
Of course the casseroles were all prepared with love and with me in mind, and for that I was truly thankful. But if you're like me, you would let the casseroles pile up for weeks, even months. I mean on the plus side, you never had to cook dinner— or even worry about grocery shopping. Which was a good thing, because you had gone through all of your mascara tubes after applying it countless times a day. Hibernation in your home was perfect, for the time being.
Believe it or not, the mailman, yes the mailman, that drives in the white truck and delivers you all the bills you now have no idea how you're going to pay as a single parent… turned my life around.
It was a wintry day in Massachusetts and almost a year and half after losing my husband, I was preparing for my second Christmas without him. If that wasn't already hard enough, I had wondered why I hadn't received any Christmas cards from my loved ones. That morning, the sun was shining and I figured it was a perfect New England temperature to shovel the snow out from in front of the mailbox. After two hours of shoveling away, I thought I had cleared a path for the mailman. From my couch, I watched him pull up to my neighbors home, deliver their mail and then pass by my house. I was furious! I quickly put on my snow boots and snow jacket and raced down the street to catch him. I really wanted those damn Christmas cards.
Once I finally reached his truck, I caught my breathe and said, "May I please have my mail?" He looked at me, and muttered, "Why don't you ask your husband to shovel your driveway a little better?"
My anger was indescribable. I remember pulling myself together, as best as a widow could and managed to say, with a straight face, "He would if he could, but he is dead." Without giving him the satisfaction of replying, I walked away. That day…was the day I cleaned out my fridge.
I decided I was no longer going to live passive, like a pathetic victim. I had two daughters to live for and my whole life ahead of me.
After Christmas, I went back to work as a completely different person. I held real conversations with people, I smiled and more importantly, I laughed. I was happy.
That's my message to you all. Grieving after loss is normal, but it's how you deal with the loss that will determine how you live the rest of your life. Second firsts was the next chapter of my life. My second first job, my second first date, my second first husband.
So go clean out your fridge, buy some new mascara and live your best second life. Because the truth is, it's all on you…and YOU can do it!