A new sense of normal.

Holidays are never really fun anymore.

Once you have experienced loss, you always know something or someone is missing. Maybe I took holidays for granted, but it wasn’t until I lost Carl that I realized how much I treasured our holiday time together.

You move around trying new things; maybe going to someone else’s house will be good... um nope. Ok, maybe having people over is fun, once again..nope. You try different people doing different things. Then you realize to just give it up to God and eventually you will end up with the right people.

Easter this year was just like that. It has taken three Easters to find a new sense of normal. But of course it was still different. Adyn is in Bali so facetiming with her is not the same as her being here to hug on and tell me “Happy Easter mom.” But, Nathan and I decided to have brunch with some of our new friends who have become like family. It was an easy morning of great conversations and thinking forward a year - to when they will have a new baby boy at the table with us. It has been so wonderful having a new young couple to live vicariously through all of their joys in marriage and hear about what it’s like to start their lives together. The food was amazing, and we all left feeling loved with full tummies.

I drove Nate to get his car where he had left it the night before. We pick it up and head to the house. And as we are driving separately, I have this aha moment where a wave of sadness flushes over me. I am reminded that I am alone. And it is real. For a few moments I let myself go back to the moments I had with Carl and my dad. Moments I miss having. Moments I will never have with them again. I take a few deep breaths and slowly bring myself back to present. I tell myself it is quite okay to be sad.

I get home and prepare for the next few hours, I am hosting a family of nine to Bar-B-Que at my home. I throw food in the oven, open up bags of chips, make the queso, and I am done. Everything else is coming with our guests. The 83-year-old matriarch lost her husband in her 40’s and while we are in the kitchen setting everything out she says to me, “we have something in common.” I stop what I am doing, take a look at her and say, “gosh I hope I get to be as lucky as you.” To be 83 and to be able to see my kids have kids and celebrate the traditions together with them. We talk about life alone and she admits that driving is the hardest thing about being single. I think to myself that I have so much to learn.

The afternoon dies down and everyone start to get sleepy. As I look around from face to face I think this is the best thing ever; eat, nap, and then eat again. I take an admiring look at this beautiful family and find myself wishing Carl were here. He loved entertaining. We would prepare, eat, laugh and he always managed to squeeze in a few games of chess afterwards.

Holidays were “our time.” Carl, my husband, and I could always glance around the room, find each other and lock eyes. It was always for just a moment, but it was when our hearts were the fullest. Surrounded by those people we loved the most; eating, drinking, and soaking in time together.

As we wind it down and people start to leave, the embraces remind me I have very little physical human contact, so the hugs are welcoming. You don’t realize the things you’ll miss most until they’re gone. We say our goodbyes and come inside. Back to my new normal: me and 3 exhausted dogs spread out on the living room floors. Time to relax. Happy Easter.