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The above picture makes me both smile and feel a pang in my heart. Smile, because it is of Garry and me when we still had hope (only six months after his cancer diagnosis in 2012). Sad, because it was the last New Year’s Eve Garry could effectively celebrate. 

The next year, New Year’s Eve 2013, marked a quick two week decline to his untimely passing. So, for any of us who loved and cared for Garry, this time of the year brings a sad anniversary.

It’s been almost two years since we lost him. And for me, at least a good solid year of that was pure hell. But, as time has passed, the perpetual waves of pain, sadness, and anger have slowly receded. Now as I stand here, alone and sometimes lonely, on what can feel like a vast and barren beach, I see that those waves of emotions washed away the protective shell that I had spent a lifetime constructing.

Insecurities I thought I had overcome in my youth are now undermining everything I do. I’m such a confident person, and yet here I am wondering if I’m good enough; hoping people will like me.

It’s not surprising I am questioning myself; so much of my being had been intertwined with Garry. We were two separate individuals, but lived as one unit. His core qualities (traits I never had on my own) were also mine when we were together: a willingness to take risks, a wonderful propensity for spontaneity, and the right to be bold when needed. We had each other and with that bond came great security. 

No matter the difficulties of marriage, children, work, or life in general, we would grow old with each other. And that was the most beautiful and secure idea of which I could ever dream. True love forever- a perfect life plan.

But, that life plan was tragically and clinically abrogated by cancer. Garry will not be my life partner. He won’t help me raise our children. We will no longer run a business together. That’s that. 

Now, here I am entering a new year and I must face two things if I want to enjoy life.

The first is to examine who I fundamentally am, and it’s really not as bad as I feared. Sure, I have insecurities I must face. But, my values are strong. I’m self-reliant; my belief in the golden rule is stronger than ever; and most important, my priorities lie with my two boys, and hopefully, helping them to become secure adults.

The second is coming to terms with the fact that I have been stuck on my old life plan. I’ve been searching for a path that doesn’t exist anymore and this isn’t healthy for me or my children.

Neither Garry nor I believed in New Year’s resolutions. Sure, when I was younger I did the obligatory diet. But, it only takes so many years of a diet crashing into a mound of cheese to figure out a lifestyle change should occur when one is ready not because of a selected date.

With that said, as I enter 2016, I’m going to give myself a few permissions. I’m going to accept myself as I am, insecurities and all. I’m also giving myself permission to come up with a new life plan. One that is best for me and the boys, and one that uses all of those great characteristics of Garry’s spirit.

Now, I realize given the events of the past three and a half years there are no guarantees in life or in the plans we make. But, that doesn’t mean I will proceed cautiously. Rather, I am going to move forward with a fire in my heart and conviction in my eyes. Because, a life lived fiercely is one worth living, and that is only way I will succeed and continue to heal.

No matter if you are feeling lost because of the death of a loved one, or if you just haven’t found your place yet. I hope you find your path this New Year. And, maybe it’s not about finding the path, as much as it is about making it. At least, that is part of the lesson I am learning.

Happy New Year. Make 2016 a great one!

Thank you Garry for everything. I’ll love and miss you always.

-Jess

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