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I'm not a spiritual person and I'm certainly not a religious person, but for lack of a better phrase, 2018 can go to hell.

This year will forever be etched in my brain as the worst year of my entire life. I lost the love of my life. I moved away from the home, the adventure and the life we had created together in Hawaii. I was checked in and out of the hospital during a high risk pregnancy before giving birth to the daughter he will never get to meet. I moved again, this time with three kids in tow to a town I never thought I'd return to. And now that the haze has settled, I'm realizing those were the easy(ish) parts. I'm seeing the hard part is the every day stuff; the waking up every 3 hours to feed a newborn by yourself, night after night. Some nights not sleeping at all because she's sick and can't sleep unless you're holding her upright - only to watch the sun come up and cringe at the sound of your other two kids stirring which means you really dont have any sleep in sight. It's Trying to figure out how to be at 3 place at once so that you can take your 4 year old daughter on the "girls date" she begs for while not leaving out your 2 year old son who also craves 1:1 time, while also not being able to leave your 5 month old alone with just anyone while you do this. It's wanting to sign your kids up for sports or music or dance classes but can't physically be there for both and can't emotionally figure out how to ask for help from friends because everyone has their own lives and families going on. It's getting sick with the flu, while your 5 month old is also sick and having to power through regardless - literally throwing up over the side of your bed while holding her during a meltdown. TRUE STORY. SO GROSS.

Every day since May 20, 2018 has been hard. It's been sad. It's been overwhelming.

I don't see that changing anytime soon, but I do see change in both myself and the kids every single day and that is empowering. You just don't realize the power that grief can have over you until you're in the thick of it and can't see out. This past week, I finally saw out. I took the kids to Boise for Christmas to spend with Brian's family and for the first time since May, I truly laughed. The entire family - kids, parents, sister, in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews all went sledding. It wasn't anything super adventurous our out of our comfort zone, but it was just plain fun. Something about watching the kids be kids and everyone just truly enjoying the moment for what it was felt very freeing. It was the first time in 7 months I didn't feel guilty for laughing, for trying to enjoy something when he should be there to be a part of it. The next day I took Izzy ice skating (something her and Brian always did as father/daughter dates in Hawaii) and she kept telling me how she was going to teach me how to ice skate just like dadda had taught her. She slipped and slid the entire way around the rink, but she was SO proud of herself and so excited to show me what her dad had taught her - it was another moment of finding healing and happiness instead of all over saddness at making memories without him.

I'm proud of myself for being able to grieve so openly and so honestly -with all of you but especially with and for myself. This has been such a journey and each step and little accomplishment feels like a milestone. Brian and I had one of the greatest love stories of all time, but part of that love story included conversations about the "what if's".. I didn't like it at the time, but I'm thankful we had those talks and that I knew what he wanted for me, for his kids and for his legacy if something like this were to happen. I know I won't ever find another Brian - there truly was only one - but I also don't want to be alone forever. I am in no way ready to begin thinking about dating or moving forward in that sense, but the thought has been something that's been on my mind the past few weeks. How does somebody who was SO in love and had the perfect little life move forward with somebody else? If/when I'm ever ready - how do I prevent myself from comparing that person to Brian? To the relationship we shared? To the fun, the adventures, the joy we shared? How do I not feel guilty for wanting companionship and for wanting to have somebody to talk to about my day, to share the small moments with, to pour me a gin & tonic and sit on the couch and laugh with? I'm struggling with these thoughts and hope at some point i'll have an answer to those questions. In the meantime, I’m making small steps towards this in little ways; letting myself have these thoughts for one, updating Facebook with the fact I’m now a widow and trying to make time for myself to think, write, work-out that doesn’t involve the kids.

I was thinking about writing this stuff down this morning while feeding Adeline but I wasn't sure if I should make it "real" by putting it into words and sharing it but as I was thinking about if/what to write - the song "Daylight" by Mat & Kim - one of Brian's favorite songs- came on my Sonos speakers and although i'm not one for 'signs', I laughed to myself and took it as one. He used to blast this song on repeat while sailing out in the Puget Sound - eating BBQ Tempeh sandwiches and giggled to ourselves about how lucky we were to experience those moments with each other.

In the spirit of the New Year and the idea of moving forward as the calendar changes, I'm going to try to keep my thoughts present. To celebrate the memories and what was, but also to remember that we are still here and this is our only life to live so we need to keep living it and make new memories. With this in mind, I've decided to plan a trip for the kids and I. We will be spending this Summer in Europe - traveling around as a family of 4, enjoying each other and making new memories. Plans aren't completely firmed up, but my goal is to spend three months visiting ten countries where the kids and I can learn, grow, laugh and continue to see what a beautiful life we've been given. It's giving me something to look forward to and I know will create wonderful memories for us a family.

In closing, I just want to say thank you to all of you for standing by us this past year. From Brian's death, to Adeline being born, to moving twice, to buying a house, the holidays and all of the moments in between - your friendship, love and support have been what I've needed and relied on this year to keep my head up when I couldn't keep it up myself. I'm truly grateful to you all, and especially to my family (blood and inherited) - all of you who have stepped in and up to make sure we are ok, THANK YOU. So here's to a Happy New Year, to all that 2019 has to bring each of us - I hope it's full of creating great moments and memories in all of your lives. <3 Ash & kids

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