It's just the first part of October, and I'm already dreading the months ahead. I keep going back and forth between two pieces of advice that have popped up over and over in my grief books -- 1) Take one day at a time; 2) Plan ahead for difficult occasions. How do I plan ahead without getting overwhelmed at what lies ahead? Isn't planning ahead contrary to the very concept of living one day at a time?
Regardless of how I approach things, I've got the following dates/occasions/milestones that I think will be tough:
1) October 16 -- first family Thanksgiving/Christmas (my grandparents are snowbirds, so we celebrate before they head to Texas for the winter)
2) October 16 -- Animal Lifeline of Iowa annual fundraising auction (Brian was on the Board of Directors; we went to the auction every year)
3) October 17 -- Des Moines 1/2 Marathon
4) October 23 -- wedding in California (Brian and I looked forward to the trip together, as well as celebrating the love and happiness of our good friends who are getting married)
5) October 29-31 -- Freeze Out (an annual event my dad's side of the family organizes; we all camp out -- in campers and cabins! -- and have fires, etc.)
6) Thanksgiving -- times at least two (Coopers & Bokas)
7) December 16 -- Brian's birthday (he would have been 32)
8) Christmas -- I'll probably have 5 Christmas celebrations to attend, in addition to the one in October (we were blessed with large, young, healthy families that still celebrate together every year)
9) December 28 -- my birthday (which I may or may not celebrate this year)
10) New Year's Eve -- in addition to being a holiday where you kiss your partner at midnight, I'll be at a wedding reception
11) January 17 -- the one year anniversary of Brian's death
All in all, I'll have more than a dozen tough occasions (remember, FIVE Christmases!) in the next 3 1/2 months. I literally don't know how I'll make it through them all. I suppose one day -- or one hour, or maybe one MINUTE -- at a time.
I keep going back and forth between thinking I should make plans in advance so I know I won't wind up with nothing to do and nowhere to go, and thinking I should play it by ear to just see what I'm feeling up to at the time. Of course, there is also the fact that I don't want to let anybody down by missing their Christmas dinner, their gift exchange, etc. These aren't office holiday parties I'm talking about -- how do I not attend Christmas with grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.? If I do limit myself -- say, to three celebrations -- how do I choose which?
I am absolutely paralyzed by fear of the coming months. I panic right now to look at the date on the calendar...October 4. How did that come so quickly? If the days keep going that quickly, I won't be emotionally prepared for the things to come! On the other hand, would it really help if I had more time to prepare? Probably not.
I guess I'll just focus on one OCCASION at a time. In two weeks, I've got a doozie of a weekend -- family holiday, Animal Lifeline fundraiser, and the Des Moines Half Marathon...all within the same 24 hour time span. I don't know if "one day at a time" will quite cut it. I just hope "one hour at a time" or "one minute at a time" will.