This is a strange time of year. Even 22 years on, I still go through the mental journey of the run-up to my husband's final illness and death. Cold weather, dark evenings, snowdrops...all these things remind me of that terrible time.
And yet we survived.
In thoses 22 years, I have learnt three things. Firstly, that grief is like labour (as in childbirth). The pain comes in crashing waves, but there are lulls in between; periods of calm, and sometimes even of optimism. At first, these waves come thick and fast; unbearable in their fierceness and their sheer physical pain. But gradually, they begin to tail off, become manageable, and while they never go, they are just a part of who I am. As for the lulls, I am convinced that it is the lulls that make grief survivable. And while there's no baby at the end of it all, there is something like hope.
Secondly, as someone once said, over time grief turns from a wound into a scar; still there, still very much a part of me, but no longer so raw or so obvious.
Thirdly, love is love, in the present tense. You never stop loving someone who has died. I find it sad when people speak of their love in the past tense. I loved him, and I still love him. Why would I not? But my life goes on (in no small part, thanks to my wonderful second husband), and he lives on in all of us, especially in our children.