Happy New Year

This is a memory of my first New Year’s evening based on memories and also the realization that YES… life is different!

The first New Year after a loss is almost impossible to imagine.  Hard to fathom that our loved one died…last year.  Such a distance and disconnect.  But to leave a century behind was really hard.

My dear Eddie,

happy_new_yearTonight is the eve of the new year, 2012. I thought I would wish you a new year greeting. I neglected to use the word “happy.” I know you will be happy again, but this will take time. I thought I would share another story.

The second New Year’s Eve after John died, I had a little party at the house. This was a big event because it was the first holiday gathering I planned on my own. The house looked festive with decorations and a Christmas tree. Everyone seemed to have a good time, so this was another first for me.

The next morning, New Year’s Day, January 1, 2000, arrived quietly. Though I was tired, I drove to the cemetery. During the night, a huge snowstorm had blanketed the earth. Finding the headstone was a challenge, and it was visible only because of colorful Christmas decorations from the previous week.

I took a party hat, some ringers, and confetti to add to the existing holiday theme. After parking my car, I trudged through the thick, wet carpet of white. Afterward, I walked in my own footsteps back to my warm car. Misty-eyed, I glanced back as I drove away, calling out a “Happy new year” to the sleeping cemetery.

Several days later, I returned in the early evening. The air was calm, and an early moon was just appearing to shed cold light on frozen ground. My kids had called, saying they too had visited on New Year’s Day. Stopping my car, I was left wondering. All I saw was on set of footprints. Where were theirs?

Later I called my son. Confused, I asked him, and he exclaimed, “Mom, we walked to Dad’s grave in your footprints. We just followed your path to and from our car.” I was relieved and touched by his explanation.

I thought about this. How comforting, Eddie, to walk in someone’s prints, to know that someone went first, making a path for us, like Chuck for you and your family. My dear friend, I pray that all your footsteps lead you to the security of God’s love along with the memory of your devoted husband.

Here’s to you, my friend. A toast to the new year!

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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