Here's the sucky thing about being widowed. Well, one of the many sucky things about it anyway. Holidays will always be hard. They will always be tarnished with lost love and that empty chair at the table. There is just no getting around it, and it doesn't matter how long it's been. I've been thinking about it a lot this year - my third since Mike died - because the more time that passes the more I realize that will simply not change. It's not like some future year I will just be blissfully happy without a care in the world or sadness and longing. It's just never going to happen.
I will always, always, always be missing him every day for the rest of my life and birthdays and anniversaries and holidays will always be that much harder. I have to steel myself; to prepare my psyche for this pain that will never end.
But when I look out at the world I see how many others have a tough time on holidays. People are lonely and alone and suffering losses and war and poverty. Not everyone grew up with the magical storybook childhood wonderland like I did. Maybe that is a little bit of an exaggeration but in comparison to some of the horror I know people go through on this planet I had it pretty darn good. Christmas was always very, very exciting as a child. Santa Claus and Christmas trees and sing-a-longs and special treats to eat and an avalanche of gifts to be discovered in the morning...every child's dream. And in our family, most years, was the added bonus of extended family. Grandparents and cousins and aunt and uncle…
So I am grateful for the childhood Christmases but of course that shifted for me too as I got older. My grandparents passed away, and we cousins all moved literally across the world from each other. After Mike and I got married most of our Christmases were spent together in Hawaii, far away from the rest of my family. In a way, Christmas became less important. Mike wasn't much into it and we never really made a big deal of it until one of his daughters moved here and even then it was pretty low key.
Except that last year before he died, Christmas of 2012, was one of the best I remember with him. For some reason he had a surplus of Christmas spirit and enthusiasm and wanted to put up all the decorations the day after Thanksgiving. He helped me unwrap and place every ornament and light. And we truly and thoroughly enjoyed our little tree and all the memories that were displayed. And both his daughters and their families and even their mom, Mike's first wife, and her husband were with us for New Years which was really special. I am so glad of that now, but it kind of made that next year without him so much more devastating. I was like a deer in the headlights, frozen in shock and horror. I tried to ignore Christmas that year but of course that’s kind of impossible.
So last year I decided to fly back and be with my parents and brother and his family. My priorities have really changed now that Mike is gone and my parents are getting older. I missed being with them on that holiday...and I realized that instead of making it just about what I have lost, that I had a chance to make it about creating a few more memories with them.
And I'm going back again this year, with the added bonus of extended family once again. Incredibly, we have managed to organize a beach house rental in South Carolina for 15 of us all from ages 12 to 82 flying in from around the world. I am excited to see my brother and cousins and all their kids along with my parents and aunt. It will in fact be the only time ever that side of my family has come together again after these many busy years of raising families in our varied corners of the planet.
And one of the reasons I pushed for this reunion was because Mike is dead. Losing him has made me realize how brief this all is and how quickly time passes and how important it is to see each other while we can because one never knows what will happen, especially with the elder generation getting older and all the kids growing up so quickly.
So as this posts, I will be surrounded by family and memories of childhood sugarplums and magical elves. I will also be wishing with all my heart that Mike could have joined us. He would have loved the kids at their present ages, he would have regaled us with stories and wanted to fly kites on the beach and teach the kids archery and swim in the pool even if it was cold.
I will miss him. But I will also be creating new treasured memories. That's pretty much all I can do to the best of my ability. And I wish you all peace, from my heart to yours, on this day and every day.