A year ago today I woke up being someone’s wife and went to bed a widow. My life changed forever that day. And, I guess it’s been changing ever since.

I honestly never contemplated being a widow. I don’t think many of us do. We don’t live life as though we are all potentially on the precipice of a fundamentally devastating change. We couldn’t function if we did.

So we live life one day to the next, letting them link together, like the paper chain we used to make when we were kids at Christmas. We started somewhere around Thanksgiving, when the chain reached from the ceiling all the way to the floor and then some. Each day we’d remove a link. Even so, it seemed like Christmas would never get there because the chain seemed infinitely long.

Most of us live life like that. Comfortably removing one day at a time, knowing the chain goes on forever, or nearly so, and the end is in the far distance. Until some of us realize, unexpectedly, that we were given a short chain.

To those whom much is given, much can be taken away. I’ve learned this up close and personal.

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It’s been a year since my chain came up short. A year of grief and growth. A year of endings and beginnings. A year of pushing my comfort zone while finding a new comfort zone. A year of learning to live again — of learning I want to live again.

At first life was a fog of obscurity. Looking back, I see that was a protective measure. I couldn’t see into the future; my brain couldn’t go there. I could see one step in front of me, no more. I was literally forced to live in the moment — in the here and now. I’ve come to believe that’s where we all should live: right here, right now. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Only today.

I think if I were to go back, I’d be shocked in the changes in myself from a year ago. This loss has made me stronger. It’s pushed me to do things I never would have done and you know what? That feels pretty badass. I think my husband would be proud. He is proud. I am proud.

I’ve learned about some of the basics of life: car repairs and plumbing fixtures. I’ve learned to ask for directions and for help.

I’ve learned about the other basics of life: peace, joy and calm come from within, faith and trust are powerful allies, love is the basis for everything that is and each of us truly does have the power to change our perspective on the moment, on the day, on life.

It’s been a year of seeing the world through new eyes. They are eyes of sadness and loss, but also appreciation and gratitude. They are eyes that understand it's about perspective and perception. Honestly, it’s not so much about what happens to you in life; it’s how you choose to see it.

Has life dealt you a short chain? Change your perspective. See it from a different angle. It may be short, but it still can be sweet and beautiful and wonderful. It’s all in how you look at it. Perspective: I get to choose mine, you get to choose yours.

A year ago today I woke up being a wife and went to bed a widow. What a difference a day makes.

What a difference a year makes.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.