You have been with me so long, it’s hard to believe you aren’t really here. When I needed you, I felt you. When I missed you, I knew you saw me. And when I remembered you, I knew you were there. Two years, Jonathan. Two years and all I have to show for it is that I can survive anything. But you knew that, didn’t you. Somewhere else, where I can’t be, you are patiently waiting. Not because you don’t need to think of me anymore, or because you no longer care – but because you already know the ending. You already understand how it’s going to be. It must be good. You wouldn’t have left me behind if you didn’t think it was worth it. And I still love you. Somehow I believe you must have known I would, and that I’d still be ok.

Today marks the second anniversary of my dear husband’s death.  He’s been gone approximately 105 weeks, 731 days, 17532 hours, 1,051898 minutes and 63, 113 852 seconds. It may be hard to believe it, but I have counted them all. I have missed him every moment of these last two years, most of the time with constant ferocity. Lately, with a growing ebb and flow of aching need.

There have been moments, in the past six months especially, when I haven’t thought of him constantly. Someone told me this would happen. That one day, I’ll realize I didn’t think of him the first thing as I woke up, and that I didn’t think of him all day long, and then went to sleep not thinking of him. So far, it has only been moments.

But I always think of him first, everyday.

I think of him when my daughter gets A’s on her report cards, and her book reports. She got an “A” on her science project, and he would have been extremely proud of her, considering how hard she worked on it.

I think of him when my youngest and I have conversations. She tells me about her favorite Disney princess or that she wants to have an elephant when she grows up.

I think of him when I have conversations with certain friends, and they say things he might have said, in the way he used to say them. It used to scare me, but now I am grateful for the small glimpses I have to see his face, or remember the way he was.

I think of him when I’m driving down the freeway and I turn my head to tell him something I thought was clever, or interesting. I still expect him to be there.

He’s comfortable in my thoughts. I don’t mind him there, as a memory away. His voice, his words, and his reactions are very easy for me to draw upon. I can still have a whole conversation with him in my head, or by myself in our truck, and I know what he would say.

But those moments aren’t as frequent as they used to be. And I have made some very significant changes throughout the year.

For one thing, I’ve begun to follow through with the plans he asked me to complete should anything happen to him. Where I was once terrified of doing what needed to be done, I am no longer afraid. I finally took the steering wheel, so to speak, and realized that I’ve been on autopilot for far too long.

Doing this has given me a new zest for life. It’s not a huge “zest.” I don’t feel like jumping up down Toyota-style, and rallying the crowd for Team Maria.

But I have a want and an interest in carving out a future, not just for my daughters, but for myself.

That’s an interesting concept for me. To think of ME. What I want, and MY hopes and dreams. They always included Jon, and when he died, I had no idea what to hope and dream for. I tried to fake it, and pretend that I could just pick up where we left off, but that never felt right.

It wasn’t until I accepted that Jon’s agenda was no longer valid on this planet, that I realized how much I could do with the time I had left. And I know this is exactly how he would want it.

He always had a way of encouraging me to take the lead and live my life. He always believed I had such a promising future, in any of the specific careers I was interested in. Sometimes, we would debate over them, whether they were good or bad for me and us. But most of the time, I was the always for the cons, and he was always for the pros.

Basically, he thought I could do anything if I wanted to. He praised my abilities as a mother, and as a wife. He never forgot to thank me for simple things, like dinner or his laundry. And if I needed a break, he was always willing to help me out. He once talked about how many of his coworkers complained about their wives and husbands, and how he felt sorry for them, but happy for us. I remember that conversation well. It impacted me more than I let on because he was really saying that he had no complaints. As a wife and mother, he was happy with my contribution. But he always felt I had more to do, and more to give the world.

And the place where I am now, as opposed to where I was two years ago, is much better. While I will ALWAYS wish that Jon never had to die and leave us behind, I am grateful for what I have learned thus far. I am grateful that I no longer consider myself a lost and confused bride, but a full-grown woman, sovereign and capable of living on her own terms.

I will always be Jon’s one and only wife. I am proud to carry his last name into the future, even if I don’t know exactly what that future holds. I am no longer anticipating every bad thing around the next corner, whether there actually are more things I need to survive and learn from. I am just doing what I need to do, and I am enjoying it.

This is my new year. For most, that day comes in January, when the western calendar restarts and everyone gets a second chance. But this is MY restart. This is where I count the old year coming to an end, and look back on it with introspection. This is the time for me to make my resolutions.

For Jon, I will honor his memory by living a good life and bringing our children to the threshold of adulthood with as much knowledge, common sense and wisdom as I can give them.

For me, I will accept that I can be happy again, even if it isn’t because I’m in love with someone. I will once again see the joy in happy things, and not darken them with the wish for his company. And I will happily and openly miss him, every day, for as long as I wish. I will smile at his memory and laugh when I make new ones. I will cry if I need to, and I will rest when I’m weary. I will create my own legacy, to match his, and I will make sure that our future generations will know what we wanted them to know and what we left behind for them to see.

I still have more healing to complete, and I know that takes time. But if that’s all I got, until we meet again, I am content to know that it will happen. I am confident that I will see the light at the end of this tunnel. Already, it’s getting brighter every day.

I love you, Jonathan. I love you, still.