My therapist recently said something that really resonated. “The second year is often much harder than the first.”
For me, that is true.
The first year, every little event or anniversary was painful because it was the first without him. So many big events, made even bigger by his absence. First day of school with just two kids. First Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year…all of the holidays and he wasn’t there. First birthday he didn’t celebrate.
So many other little firsts, too. First time I saw all of the neighborhood kids playing, without him. First time I automatically put something in my shopping cart for Charlie, then had to put it back. First time I worked in my new office, his old bedroom. First time I switched out seasonal clothes, and realized my older son’s hand-me-downs needed to go to friends.
But the second year is worse. Because you realize it’s not just that first time, it’s the rest of your life. He will never, ever go back to school, celebrate a holiday, or play with his friends.
Worse, all of the rest of the years are about the firsts he is going to miss. Everyone else grows up and on, but he will never go to middle school, or high school, or college. He’s never going to make that first pay check. He’s never going to go through puberty, much less have his first kiss, first date or fall in love. He’s never going to become who he was meant to be.
I didn’t think anything could be worse than that first year without him. I was wrong.