A friend called me yesterday to talk about plans for New Years Eve. She had previously mentioned the idea of renting a house at the beach and getting a few people together for a fun night in. While I had been quite keen to join them when we first spoke about it, I found myself feeling more and more reluctant as the conversation went on.
For a start, the house will have three bedrooms, all of which she had allocated to the three couples. When I asked about my sleeping arrangements she suggested I bring along a blow up mattress and crash on the lounge-room floor.
Now, I'm not a princess. Sleeping on the floor doesn't bother me and I've done it plenty of times before. But this time I found myself feeling really upset at the idea. As soon as we hung up the phone I burst in to tears and it hit me that I would be facing my second 'new year' alone and without Dan.
I wasn't hurt by my friend or her plans, but I realised I was upset about the idea of not having a bedroom because it would mean that I wouldn't have access to a private 'safe place' if the grief roller-coaster took a steep dip during the event.
I tried looking in to hiring my own hotel room nearby, so I could retreat if and when I needed - but everything was either booked out or had a minimum 4-night stay that would be way out of my budget.
I thought about driving up to the beach in the afternoon and not drinking, so I could drive myself home when I wanted instead of staying for the night. But I don't want to do that either.
In fact, within about five minutes of hanging up the phone I felt myself going in to self-preservation mode. I was flat out ready to hide from not only New Years Eve (I have invitations from other groups of friends that I could take up) but all holiday-related social events over the coming weeks.
Instead, I decided, I would stay home alone and go to bed early that night, hide under the blankets with the cat and let 2015 crawl in unannounced. And there it was again. Dan was dead and I was on my own.
It's so easy to miss him. Even when the grief isn't the biggest thing in my life and I'm in some kind of place of peace about his death, the 'missing him' is there. The happiest of moments can crystallise his absence and remind me of what he's missing. What I'm missing. The smallest or most obvious thing can set me off at the most unexpected times.
I can be sailing along in calm seas, feeling ok, planning my Christmas holiday... then suddenly realise that at midnight on New Years Eve I will have to stand there awkwardly while everyone else around me turns to embrace and kiss their partners. It was a classic light bulb moment. I mean, Dan isn't going to be here for the holidays - how had I not thought of this already!?
Then came the realisation of everything else he would miss out on this Christmas. When I make the trip to Sydney to see his family next weekend, his absence will be incredible. I can't wake up in his arms on Christmas morning and make him wear a silly matching Christmas-themed accessory with me. I won't be able to find the perfect present to make his eyes light up and bring on that gorgeous, excited grin that used to flip my stomach.
He is gone and it sucks. So today has been a teary day while I cry for the fact that my husband is dead and won't be home for Christmas. When I'm ready and the sadness has been vented enough, I will get back up, brush myself up, and take another step forward into this widowed life without him.