My Last Firsts

It’s true when they say the years go fast but the days are long…and I can’t believe tomorrow marks 10 months since Stephan passed.  I don’t know about you, but I really dislike having to write about my feelings and then, when my arm is twisted, I usually am grateful and feel better.  Well, I was asked to be part of this featured Friday blog by my once acquaintance and now good friend Jodi.  My first thought was “I can’t” but actually, these thoughts have been circling in my head for weeks; her request was the push I needed to put into words what was in my active subconscious about Stephan and the last two months before the anniversary of his death.

My thoughts have been around how I don’t know how to process that I am about to experience my last “firsts” with him.

Stephan and I met when we were in our mid-twenties.  He lived in Alameda, CA but his corporate home office was in Wayne, PA and our story begins in Manayunk at Arroyo Grill.  There was something special from first sight and we both fell fast.  In those first heady months of dating and falling in love, we started the tradition of relishing in our first experiences together.  Sharing my first time traveling abroad, to France, where I met his amazing family.  Moving in together, buying our first home, the experience of being newlywed, our first child…to living abroad…The list of “firsts”, while rapid in the beginning, always expanded and we cherished and celebrated each of them.

Now, the first anniversary of his death is approaching and I can’t help thinking that these last two months are the end of our firsts. All the first holidays and birthdays without him are passing faster than I can believe and yet the hardest are just on the horizon.  Like our first wedding anniversary on April 27th where we would’ve celebrated 17 years of marriage. And the most difficult: the first anniversary of his sudden, traumatic, and untimely death on May 23rd.

Since his death, I so often would think of “this time last year” – especially when a Facebook memory would pop up in my morning feed, or a holiday, no matter how small, or the 23rd of every single month.  It’s hard to describe all my thoughts and feelings.  One day I am happy and strong, another day vulnerable and sometimes, absolutely anguished.  I feel apprehensive and longing for time to slow down because when the first anniversary of his death passes, I will no longer be able to say “this time last year”, we had family hugs, kissed, talked about our dreams, laughed, argued, celebrated, traveled, or just physically were together.  I have been able to conjure up almost every detail of these memories from “this time last year” and now I am scared how passing time will steal the vividness of those moments.

It is really hard to move from the world that was to the world that is.  I’m trying to do what I can to be present and positive. I’m trying to figure out how to hold on to our memories, how to honor him, to embrace the sorrow, the joy, and the many rhythms of grief that surround me and our children.

The people at Family Lives On, especially Jodi and Jordan, have touched my heart in unique and powerful ways.  Jodi, who Stephan and I had known through mutual friends, including her sister Lori, has been a consistent support in checking in with me just to see how I was doing – like really doing.  Jordan Britt, who was the same age as my Eloise when she lost her father and who reassured me how she, her brother and mom survived the sudden loss of their dad.  My heart is so grateful for these girls!!!! So when I saw that the annual “Family Lives On” 5k fundraiser is on my first wedding anniversary without Stephan – I knew, yeah – this is exactly where we need to be – with the people, the team, who have helped and will help our family live on.

My “firsts” are dwindling down, and in these final two months, capturing positive and meaningful actions, as well as making space for sorrow is what my children and I need.  Stephan will always be a continuous and steadfast love in our lives.

So instead of celebrating 17 years of marriage on April 27th, the Hagelauer Anniversary Team will be running the 15th Annual Race for Traditions to honor Stephan’s memory and the love that we shared for each other, for our children, for our family and our friends.

Go Hagelauer Anniversary Team!  4/27/19