This July, on the 13th of that month, will mark the 10 year anniversary of Don Shepherd’s death.
In 10 years, some things have not changed. It has not changed that I still hate using the word “anniversary” when talking about the worst day of my life, and when referencing the death of a human being. Anniversary should be a happy word, reserved for things like wedding days and birthdays of people who are still alive.
In 10 years, it has not changed that I still refer to Don’s death as a death – not as his “passing” – because he didnt pass a kidney or pass the bar exam – he died. He is dead. That is what happened. For me, the term “passed away” is perhaps only appropriate when the person is in their 90’s, lived a full life, and dies peacefully and without pain , surrounded by family and loved ones. Collapsing on a hard floor in a Pet Smart, completely alone, is not “passing away.” My feelings about this have not changed over the past 10 years.
In 10 years, my grief has not gone away, and I don’t miss Don Shepherd any less than I did in the recent days and months after he died. I have not “gotten over it” or “moved on” or “put this behind me” or any other such thing, in the last 10 years, nor will I ever. Every day that I breathe air and probably the days that I dont, I will miss Don Shepherd. Yes, in the last 10 years, my missing of him has changed in how I miss him, and the relationship that I now have with him is different than the one I had when we were married or when he first died and I still felt married. In some ways, after all these years, I feel closer to Don than ever, just in a completely new and profound way.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about 10 years.
Its a lot of time.
And its not a lot of time.
An entire decade has gone by since that life I knew died.
He has missed a decade of things in my life, in our families and friends lives.
When he died 10 years ago, I would be turning 40 just two months later.
Now, 10 years after his death, I will turn 50, just two months after his death “anniversary.”
That will make me 4 years older than the oldest age he will ever be – 46.
With the mark of this decade, Don will now be dead twice as long as the years we were married.
We never got anywhere close to a decade – just 4 years and 9 months of marriage.
As of New Years Eve, I am now a remarried widow. I have a beautiful husband who loves me dearly and whom I love deeply and differently than the way I loved Don. I have a very different life than the one I had imagined having decades ago, but it’s a life that I love and a life that I have rebuilt and a life that Im proud of. Don is a part of that old life, but he’s a part of this one too. I carry him with me always, and he helps me through things sometimes. These days, I talk to him a lot more, and I laugh a lot more when I think of him. There are still days that are incredibly difficult – but there are more days that aren’t.
A decade is a huge milestone. It feels like something big and meaningful. It feels very full-circle.
I havent decided yet how to mark this decade, but by the time July 13th rolls around this year, I want to have something big planned – some big way to fully honor him, me, and the continuation of life in the aftermath of loss. I need to think about this.
I love you, Don. I always will, for many decades to come …