It’s so strange how much easier the holidays were than I expected. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been easy, just easier than expected. I've been feeling almost spooked by the lack of horrific pain I've felt in the last week or so leading up to Christmas.
For one thing, Dave and I never made a big deal out of Christmas. We’d hit his parents’ house for Christmas day because they expected us, but we didn’t put up a tree (We gave up on a tree after the cat knocked the thing over and ate the needles) and didn’t wrap presents up for each other. We got each other gifts so frequently throughout the year, that at Christmas time, we’d usually just pick a joint gift for the house that we’d been wanting and call it done.
Because it wasn’t a special time of year for us, maybe I just didn’t feel his absence any more than I do on a normal day. I miss him every day, so this day was like all the others. It was hard to see couples and families, but that’s always hard. It’s almost harder on ordinary days. Even couples and families who don’t want to be together often feel duty-bound to spend time together during the holidays. It’s the normal days when there’s no expectation to be together that the togetherness I see around me hits me hardest.
Dave was wonderful in many ways, but one way he was very different than me was that he didn’t need the company of many people. In fact, he was quite satisfied to be with me, and only me, every day. The thought of holiday parties or get-togethers made him very uncomfortable. Because of that, I spent holidays either alone with him, or attending an occasional party without him during the holidays. I never really thought I minded terribly, but a part of me I didn’t even know existed just soaked in all the time spent with my friends this year. The reason for that is tragic, but there it is. I can’t deny that I very much enjoyed all the socializing, even while feeling this giant hole in my life and heart where Dave used to reside. My friends saw to it that I'd be surrounded by them and their love during the holidays and this alone was the most incredible gift of all.
Also, since we don’t have kids, I didn’t have to pretend to be strong for their sake and I didn’t have to see them experiencing Christmas without their father. I can’t imagine that kind of pain. All I had to worry about was my broken heart and not theirs too, or about being strong for their sake.
Then, there's numbness. I'm pretty sure that it plays a part here. I think I'll know better in hindsight, but I'll venture to bet my mind is protecting me a little by going somewhat numb.
I’ve also been feeling some pride. I’ve made it 7 months. I have reached out for help and love from those who love me. I’ve begun building this new life from the rubble his death left behind. I’ve survived. I am stronger than I ever believed possible. And now, I’ve survived the holidays (well…almost) and can maybe, just maybe, see a ray of hope for next year. The chance to create new traditions and celebrate my survival of another year is there for me if I want to accept it.
I think I do.