Like most people who have experienced the death of a significant other, I mark time in my life as either “before he died” or “after he died.”
Before he died, October was a magical month. My very favorite month, in fact. It was the month when he and I first met (at a dive bar in my hometown), and it was the month we went on our first date (sushi for dinner and then walking through the middle of the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade and stopping right in the middle of it for our first kiss). October was also the month we got married (under a tent on the water in Montauk with 20 of my best friends dancing down the aisle and a party that went on for many hours after it was supposed to end). And, it was the month when we’d celebrate that he and his daughter were born on the exact same day (he always said having his daughter born on his birthday was the best birthday present he could ever ask for). Before he died, October was also a month filled with cozy oversized sweatshirts, blankets on the couch while watching football, homemade sauce that he’d make on Sundays, and trips to fall festivals to eat apple cider donuts and pick out our pumpkins.
After he died, warts grew on my pumpkins. They are different than everyone else’s bright orange smooth pumpkins. Every morning in October when I wake up, I think to myself, what memory of him do I have from this day in October? Those are still happy and good memories, but they’re different. They’re not the advent of family traditions with our kids; they’re just memories. And now that’s he’s gone, there’s a new milestone in October; October 13th is the half year anniversary of his death. So, as of this year on October 13th, it was 2.5 years since we lost him. And now every October reminds me that my sweet stepdaughter has to live the rest of her life sharing her birthday with her deceased father. That sucks. And today, on what would have been the 8th anniversary of our wedding, I’m writing this post while on a flight to Orlando for work, having left our 4 year-old daughter at home with family and her nanny. I used to fly all over the world. In fact, the top of my bucket list is to travel to all 7 continents, and I have 5 of them under my belt so far. But, in the 2.5 years since my husband died, I have not taken a flight anywhere: paralyzed with the largely irrational fear that I will die in a plane crash, leaving my daughter and my three stepkids to carry on without me.
So, in this still-new era of “after he died,” my pumpkins will never look the same. But, ya know, those warty pumpkins are kinda cool. They have character and intrigue. They stand apart from regular smooth orange pumpkins because they’re rough and tough. And my kids and I are rough and tough, too, because we keep putting one foot in front of the other, tackling each new challenge that life presents to us. Challenges like getting on a goddamn airplane – and, ya know what, this flight is about to make a safe landing in Orlando. Life is different now, life is in many ways harder now, but I’m a stronger person in this era, and I’ve realized that it’s okay to say that life is good, even without him here with us. Life is good, bitches.