Anniversary Day Signs

With four major FIRST milestones behind me (Jax’s birthday, anniversary of Justin’s death, anniversary of Justin’s funeral, and Father’s Day), I felt I had the right to take a deep breath and give myself a mental break. Having so many FIRSTS in this first year without Justin, I hadn’t begun to process what was soon approaching in July. I would be facing my “first  SECOND” a day I had agonized over all year long, our wedding anniversary. Last year, Justin passed away five weeks prior to our 11th anniversary. I was in such a tremendous fog that I could barely process it.  At the time, my mom suggested that having Justin and I’s closest friends and family surrounding me would be best. I was in no state to consider other options or care for that matter. I used people, food, and alcohol as a distraction to get me through the day, which at that time I thought was best. Thinking back, I am amazed I didn’t completely fall apart. This year would be a horse of a different color. I was off my Lexapro and my drinking had been back to social levels for a while now. Along with this, my emotions and feelings were raw and I was dreading it! I had cried so much leading up to it that I wondered how I would handle the actual day. Sometimes I find myself anticipating a holiday or anniversary so much that I tend to get a lot of depression out prior to the actual day. Not only do I mourn Justin, but I mourn our life we had together and our life we should have had.

Ireland 2008
Taking selfies in Ireland 2008

 

With a week of tears behind me, I made it to July 26th. I had made plans (once again) with friends and family. The only exception was, this year, I didn’t feel a need to bring any attention to the significance of the day. Instead, I wanted to treat the day like any other and try my hardest to enjoy it instead of sulking around being depressed. July 26 had always represented something so positive and beautiful to me for 10 (almost 11) years. Justin was very romantic when it came to special holidays. For our wedding anniversary, we usually had a fun trip planned. For our fifth, we went to Ireland and New Orleans for our 10th, and last one together.

Ireland 2008
Justin In Wicklow County Ireland

 

He also loved to shower me with gifts and was pretty unique with his choices. Very rarely would he be cliche by sending me a dozen red roses or a piece of jewelry. He loved to surprise me with fun things and take me on personal shopping trips. He always told me, “I just love seeing you smile”. Making me happy was a top priority, which he always succeeded at, and I know it would have been this way forever.

I ended up spending the day on a friend’s boat and the evening with my girlfriends watching reality TV. These options may sound abnormal or strange, but they were just what I needed. I was able to soak up some beautiful gulf air and sunshine with Jax as well as watch some trashy TV with my girls. The day did still have very depressing moments but all in all I can say I pretty much enjoyed it. I believe Justin was looking down on me knowing how hard it was for me to crack a smile. He did show me in a few ways that he was with me. It may sound strange to say he gives me signs from time to time, but I do believe it with all my heart, as I don’t much believe in coincidences. Besides our anniversary being on the 26 of July, my birthday falls on the 26 of April. Therefore, Justin and I developed a mutual love for the number 26. We coined 26 “our number” and would see it everywhere. We’d pump gas and accidentally stop the counter at 26 dollars. Our receipt at Target would total $26.26 and we would be seated at table number 26 at restaurants. It was usually pretty surreal and no one else understood it besides us. We decided when we went to Las Vegas or Biloxi that it was our “winning” number and we’d spend all night at the roulette table betting number 26.

Vegas 2011
My handsome stud in Vegas 2011

We actually hit pretty big a few times but it never failed us. We would hit 26 eventually and it always made our day. It made us feel like we had a secret no one else knew..  

So as for the number 26 this year, well let’s just say it followed me everywhere. At the grocery store waiting for my turn at the deli, I was number 26. I was on my way home when the radio dj announced the next song and it just so happened to be number 26 on the countdown. I pulled into my driveway and listened. It was a Michael Bolton song named “I Promise You”.

 

 

The lyrics were as follows:

 

I’ll love you forever, I promise you

We’ll be together, our whole life through

There’s nothin’ that I, I wouldn’t do

With all of my heart, I promise you

 

When I was in the water with Jax, I felt something underneath my foot that felt strange. Instinctively, I grabbed it to investigate and to my surprise it was a beautiful starfish. I smiled and quickly grabbed my phone to take a photo. When I looked at my phone the time was displayed and it just so happened to be 2:26. I held that starfish tight as I thought back to a day on our honeymoon in the Bahamas. While snorkeling I distinctly remember Justin discovered a starfish in the ocean. We were ecstatic to have found this while snorkeling as no one else in our group had much luck besides a few seashells. At the time, we saw it as a sign that our marriage would always be blessed. And it was very blessed! Even though it was cut short and wasn’t free from it’s own challenges, it was certainly blessed. As time marches on, I continue to see so many blessings in my life. From my beautiful baby Jax, to my kind and loving parents (who everyday help me raise my boy), to my wonderful girlfriends willing to drop everything just so I have some company on a tough day, to Justin’s mother Vicki taking off work whenever I ask to keep Jax. Vicki always reassures me what a wonderful mother I am while reminding me how happy I made her son. In the wake of losing Justin I have to constantly remind myself of these blessings. No matter how much time passes, I will never forget how blessed I was to have had him in my life and how blessed I am to be the one raising his beautiful baby boy.the singing widow blog logo

 

Fathers Day Blues

Fathers Day 2015 wasn’t the happiest occasion for the Ayers household. Not only would it be Jax’s first Fathers Day without a father, but, this year it happened to land on the one-year anniversary of Justin’s funeral. A double whammy to say the least. We had just celebrated Jax’s first birthday a week prior and only three days after that faced the one-year anniversary of Justin’s death. I’m sure it all sounds very confusing! I mean how often do people have to face four major events (happy and sad) all within a weeks time? But, that has been right on point with our life this past year. It seems to be one thing after another and never-ending. I had been dreading Fathers Day as much as other major holidays (if not more). The major difference in Fathers Day and others was not only the obvious but, the significance of how special it was only a year ago. Fathers Day always falls on the third Sunday in June. In 2014, June 1st was on a Sunday which made it fall on the 15th. Jax was born on June 14th so Justin became a father one day before Fathers Day last year. We were able to celebrate his first official Fathers Day in the hospital and, with Jax officially ours, it was pure bliss! See, when you finally decide to have a baby you step into a different world. All of the sudden, you find yourself not caring about the following: sleep, eating, sleep, your looks, sleep, personal interests, sleep, favorite TV shows, sleep and did I mention SLEEP? That’s right, the things you’ve always loved are now things of the past and YOU COULD GIVE A RIP! You instantly find yourself at the mercy of this 8lb pooping, peeing, eating, sleeping, and crying pile of warm snugly cuteness and you’d have it no other way. With all that being said, Justin and I were like all new parents and we couldn’t wait to start our new life with our precious baby boy.

So getting back to Fathers Day 2015, Justin has officially been dead for exactly a year and three days. And what is a girl to do with this day looming over her head. In one hand, I’m so utterly grateful for my own father. He has without a doubt been the glue that helped hold me and Jax together this past year. He’s seen it all, from the first time I laughed at a joke, to me hysterically crying over a song that came on the radio. He has been a rock! He’s taken to Jax like a second father and sure has loved  him like one. He’s given up his MANY sports programs to watch chick flicks with me and mom. He took off work to drive all over the country with us because I couldn’t stand to sit in a house all year long and stare at the walls. He remodeled his house so Jax and I could have a comfortable place to live AND he let me pick out the flooring. Last and most importantly, he has loved me and Jax unconditionally and that will forever be in my heart. I have a much closer relationship with my old man than most girls my age and I am very grateful for it, even though it came at a hefty price. So I do my best to show my own daddy how much I love and appreciate him even though I will never feel like anything will be quite enough.

Justin with his father Steve and Jax on Fathers Day 2014
Justin with his father Steve and Jax on Fathers Day 2014

My heart was also very heavy this day for Justin’s dad Steve. Since having a child of my own, I can’t possibly imagine the loss of one. I can’t help but see the intense pain and anger in Steve’s eyes every time I look into them. It’s almost like he wears blinders each day just to make it through. However, the blinders had to come off on this particular day, it’s just unavoidable! I sent encouraging, yet truthful, words to him even though nothing seemed to be right. “I know you are hurting, and it’s okay, we all are”. He seemed touched by them and I hoped to help ease some of the pain by him knowing just how much his son loved him. Because he did!!! Justin thought his daddy hung the moon and no one could or ever would tell him any different.

As for me on Fathers Day, I was all over the place. Between the two fathers still here on this earth and the one who is not, I tried my best to get through the day and keep my head up. Music has always been my savior and this day would be no different. I had to work??? Yep, that’s what a big girl does. She gets her ass outta bed, loads her mom and 12-month-old in the car, drives 3 hours to a band gig AND rocks the house. And it was a packed house at that!!! It was full of families celebrating this joyous calendar day and having a wonderful time. Did I mention my son was on cloud nine? There is nothing Jax loves more (besides nursing lol)  than watching mommy perform. He is without a doubt his father’s son and like a moth to a flame he is drawn to music. My mind, of course, was somewhere else. As I sang about Redneck Women, Shakin’ It Off, and of course Jax’s fave Bringin Booty Back (Meghan Trainor, if you will) my thoughts were constantly on Justin. Wishing he was next to me ripping the guitar for his baby to enjoy, or rocking him to sleep, or feeding him a Cheerio, or just gazing into his mysterious eyes and enjoying every second of it. Justin will NEVER be forgotten and will always be celebrated. Jax will grow up not only knowing what an amazing man his father was but will damn well know how much his daddy loved him. He will know he did get to celebrate Fathers Day with his daddy and it was without a doubt his father’s finest day on this earth.the singing widow blog logo