I know there’s a bright side of the road—I can see it and sometimes even reach it briefly.  Utilizing the amazing skills of resilience that I learned from my late husband, guitarist Pete Huttlinger, I am working through the grief of losing him.

I’m The Luckiest Unlucky Girl

I’m The Luckiest Unlucky Girl

It’s not lost on me just how lucky I am.

I have a gratitude journal that I write in every night.  Immediately following Pete’s death it was pretty excruciating to put pen to paper and come up with anything to be grateful for...scratch that…come up with anything for which to be grateful.

(Not only did Pete not believe in hypotheticals, he also didn’t believe in ending sentences with prepositions.)

But I forced myself to come up with something–anything.

“Today I am grateful for...”

(from big things) – my kids, my parents, my family and friends

(to little things) – hot oatmeal, a glass of good red wine, soft socks

I wrote lists in my journal every night, again and again, to keep myself afloat—to keep myself connected to this earth.  Zeroing in on something physical and real while my mind was soaring out of this universe, re-living my life with Pete on a constant loop.  I didn’t feel particularly grateful during those days, but I didn’t let that stop me.  I knew I was grateful, I just had to make myself say it out loud.

Over time, as I muddled my way through this nightly exercise, it became a little bit easier.  Thank goodness it had already been a habit for years or it might have been impossible. In fact, it probably would have never occurred to me to do it at all.

Within a couple of weeks of Pete’s death I realized something for which I was extremely grateful.  I have at my fingertips hours and hours of video footage and hundreds of photos of Pete–performing, talking, laughing, joking, walking, etc…  Some of it was footage I shot, or media he had done, but a lot of it was footage from Pete’s admirers.

I am so appreciative for everyone who has sent me photos or videos of Pete that they collected throughout his career.  The beautiful thing is that Pete was Pete.  He wasn’t one guy in public and another guy at home.  He was authentic.  So everything that I’ve been sent captures his spirit, and I just revel in it.  And this makes me a very lucky woman because it occurred to me early on that most people who lose loved ones don’t have such an expansive digital trail of their lives, so much footage that they can watch to re-create, in a very small way, the existence of that person.  In fact, I was with Pete for about 99% of what I’ve been sent, so watching it is reliving my own experiences with him.

Now that my lungs have slowly begun to expand and I am able to breath a little more deeply, my gratitude journal has expanded.  I still am grateful every day for the little things (iced chai, strong internet signal) but I am now able to be grateful for larger things.

Today I am grateful:

…for the generosity of so many people I have never met who share with me their pieces of Pete.

…for the generosity of so many people Pete and I met over the years, and miles, who continue to send me visual pieces of him that my kids and I can watch any time we like

…for my wonderful life with the person whom we all share in common

How do you hone in on your gratitude during times when it’s hard to feel grateful?

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The Peyton Manning Syndrome (or What You See Isn’t What You Get)

The Peyton Manning Syndrome (or What You See Isn’t What You Get)

My Existential Crisis

My Existential Crisis