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  • Writer's pictureKatie Beucus

Thoughts on 35

Updated: Jun 6, 2023

I climbed into bed last night as a 34 year old and fell asleep as a newly minted 35 year old. Insomnia is still alive and well. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t weird to wake up on my birthday without Aaron and the kids rushing around the house to get my cards they hid and a birthday balloon. Aaron hated balloons but Haddie always insisted they buy me one and so he did. He would take the kids shopping and let them pick out a present for me without intervention. A few years ago I scored a slip n’ slide! So yeah, today is weird.

Aaron and I formally met on my 21st birthday, 14 years ago today. He always said he knew he was going to marry me from the second I walked in the restaurant. Because he was friends with my brothers and other mutual friends, I had seen him in passing but we hadn’t really met. I remember the shirt he was wearing. I still have it. I remember a mutual friend making such a big deal of how well he cleaned up because it was such a rare sight. I remember borrowing his cell phone fresh out of it’s “phone sock” to call another friend to give them grief for leaving early because they had a pack test the next morning.

Normally birthdays for me are a time of reflection and projection. Reflection on the ways I’ve grown and where I want to grow more and projection to future hopes and goals. This year both feel hard.

Reflecting forces me to recognize that I have been mentally and emotionally stretched beyond any capacity I ever could have imagined. I have done incredibly hard things. Things I’d have nightmares of until recently. We have also been blessed beyond measure, over and over. Those memories make me smile.

Aaron has been gone for just over 4 months now but I’ve been mourning the Us we were and future we dreamed of for over a year now. I am digging deep everyday to live a full life in honor of him. To not would feel like a failure of his legacy for me. And it’s what he wanted. The Thursday before Aaron died, as I was getting him ready for bed off handedly he said, “Promise me you won’t be sad. Promise me. That when I die. You won’t be sad.” I took a seat next to him and explained that I could not make that promise but that I felt joy and grief can live in harmony. I can be sad he is no longer here, and joyful for the time we had and the incredible children he has given me. He took a piece of my heart with him, that cannot be denied, but I could promise to keep on living, not just existing. So here I am.

To project, to think of future me, feels so surreal. It is a life I never would have envisioned. It’s as if I had it all mapped out on an old white board and one night a custodian came and wiped it clean, only long thin lines of our old life remain permanently embedded in the cracks of that old board, a gift to carry me forward.

The term single mom still feels like sand in my mouth simply because I never planned to raise kids this way. As if I had a choice in my aloneness. Aaron never wanted me to remain alone. It is something he gave me a hard time about often, him insistent that I was too young and too loving of a person to be alone forever and me arguing that I would simply adopt 50 cats and that would settle that.

Something I think he understood that I did not anticipate was what the loss of companionship would feel like. There is something almost sacred about living a life with someone who just gets you. Who loves you for all your quirks even if it means you hog 100% of the covers every night, squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle (how dare I!), wash a load of laundry at least twice because you never remember to change it over. A true teammate in this life.

The void is a quiet emptiness you carry, until a moment creeps in and the emptiness suddenly feels loud. Like when you’re at school or sport events and you realize your family no longer looks like the rest. Or when you’re making dinner and showering kids and doing dishes and you can’t tap anyone in anymore. Or when your kids drift off to sleep and there’s no one to sit with and recap the day or decompress with mindless TV or vent about work. So many inside jokes just gone.

As a now 35 year old widow, thinking of my future big picture, I can’t say that I haven’t  wondered, would anyone want us? I mean the kids are a no brainer, they’re awesome. But me? With a piece of my heart that will hold love for someone else forever? And if that time ever came, whose hearts would I be breaking? Would people who loved us feel betrayed?

And then there’s all the big life things. Graduations and proms and driving lessons and home runs and dance recitals and first heart breaks and weddings etc. It’s easy to let your mind run away, but I often think back to some of the best advice we were given when this all began. One day at a time. In the hospital we learned it could be as short as one hour at a time. And so I still hold onto hope for whatever my future holds, even if it is 48 more cats.

Over the last month of Aaron’s life, when we’d wake up in the morning he’d look over at me and say, “I’m still here!” and we would both laugh. But then in the last week of his life, even on his final day, when he woke up he would look over at me and say, ”We get one more day.” And we did. We got one more day, plus an hour and fifty four minutes.

So today as I celebrate my 35th trip around the sun, while this stream of consciousness feels like a lot, I remain grateful for one more day 💛

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1 Comment

Jun 07, 2023

You will forever be my sister-in-law, and my kids Auntie Katie. We will support you and the kids, ALWYAS! We are proud of you for continuing to “live”, even though some days maybe harder to push through than others. Aaron is proud of you! We love you Katie! ♥️

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