People ask me how I find the courage to go on after Matthew passed away. Sometimes, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the everyday routine. We’ve had a wonderful summer, the kids loved camp and hanging out with friends. But I woke up the other day with a heavy heart, and I couldn’t understand why. Then I realized that it was August . Matthew passed away in August, exactly two years ago. I was approaching yet another milestone and although time can heal, some milestones never get easier. There are days when the last two years feel like they have taken ages. Others, it feels like yesterday.
I still can’t believe we survived it and found a happy place, our new normal. I have moments when I get teary-eyed thinking about the journey of healing my family’s broken heart. Rifky, my Chai Lifeline caseworker, changed my perspective. She helped me see the courage in being honest about my feelings and showing emotions.
Courage was Brooke going to Disneyland with Penina’s Helping Hands when Matthew was in his final days. She knew that he might be gone when she returned. She said goodbye before leaving and told him she loved him. I’m still in awe.
Courage was me letting Brooke go. I had no idea how those last few days would transpire, how much time Matthew had left. These things can’t be scripted. I couldn’t miss the chance for her to go to the happiest place on earth. Matthew wouldn’t have wanted her to miss out.
Courage is Brooke letting herself cry. She cried when she left Montreal this summer. She begged me to move there. “Why do we have to stay in Toronto if Daddy is gone?” I explained: we have so many friends in Toronto, and I know she would miss them. Montreal is a special place (with special bagels) but it’s for visiting.
Courage was letting 4-year-old Zachary visit Matthew in the hospital to say goodbye. Watching him cuddle with Matthew during those final days is a precious memory, one that lasts a lifetime.
Courage is telling the kids it is okay to talk about Matthew. I want them to talk about him, not to hold off because it makes mommy sad.
Courage is Zachary, now almost 7, expressing himself about missing Daddy, asking me if I’ll die too. I want him to know that I’m doing all I can to stay strong and healthy, so I can live until I am very old.
Courage is Zachary and Joshua learning to ride bikes, and teaching sports to themselves and each other. They’ve gotten closer and it warms my heart to see how they care and support one another.
Courage is me accepting that it is okay to have bad days when I miss Matthew and having a husband.
Courage is doing the best I can. I stopped trying to be a “perfect parent,” now I just try to spend quality time with my kids. They’re growing into wonderful, empathetic people. I must be doing something right.
Courage was attending my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah in Montreal. It’s the first time in two years that I could celebrate a big event without Matthew.
Courage is making space for Matthew’s friends in our life. I could barely let in my own family at first. Being with them, without Matthew, was difficult. I’m glad they’re in my life, and can share Matthew’s stories with my kids.
Courage has been accepting help. Letting my family bring the kids to Montreal this summer and having Chai Lifeline volunteers take the kids so that I can get some “me time” has been a huge gift.
Courage is letting myself smile again, hopeful of the future, grateful for the life I have now. I let myself believe that life holds more for me and I get excited to start my days.
Courage has been sharing my story with you. While it’s helped me heal, if it even helps one person going through similar situations, I’ve done a mitzvah. I think Matthew would be happy with that.