The day Phil died, my world was irrevocably changed. No amount of crying, wishing, or begging could switch my new reality back to the reality of what seems like only moments ago. The first Christmas without him, I sat on the coach alone watching the kids open gifts that only I chose, purchased, wrapped, and stowed under the tree...barely able to keep from bawling all over their happiness. I swear I could hear my heart breaking again as reality slapped me in the face on what is touted as the merriest of days. I didn't believe the pain of missing him would ever lessen. I couldn't see how that was possible if Phil was still going to be dead...and unless there was some kind of amazing magic wand under the tree that could reverse my reality, Christmas seemed doomed for ever more.
What I know now is that the pain of missing Phil hasn't lessened. In fact, because the pain is part of my everyday life I have stopped watching it with a wary eye. So on occasion that powerful longing has the ability to sneak up behind me and sucker punch me in the gut...taking my breath for a moment in an unexpected swoop. But I now find this breathlessness bittersweet. Because missing him reminds me of how much I still love him. Temporarily being unable to believe that he really is dead oddly cements his memory over and over again. And each Christmas I find myself briefly visiting in my mind's eye the me that sat alone on the couch that Christmas morning in 2005, and wishing I could tell her that she will never forget the moments she is living. In fact, she will revisit them time and time again. But not for the reason you may think.
So today, I'd like to share a few things with my Christmas 2005 self in the hope that if you find yourself sitting alone thinking that this will never get better these words may help you, too....
It's okay to cry. You won't drown, though I know you are afraid that you might. Let people love you. It really is the only thing they can do, on Christmas Day or any other day. Life could be worse. I know that is hard to hear right now, but it is true. Hold onto that. You won't forget. Even though the timber of his voice will fade, you will never forget the way he spoke to you or how his voice in your ear made you feel.
Life will keep moving whether you like it or not. And eventually you will move, too. It's okay. Phil did not take the best part of you with him when he died. No, he didn't. Don't argue with me. Forever does not apply to life, but it does apply to love. You will always love him. The holidays aren't the hardest days. Rainy days when he would have called you ten times hurt worse.
Ask for help. I know you hate appearing needy, but you can't do this alone. You need people who care. On that note, when you ask for help you give someone who loves you a gift. They want to help, but don't know how. Help them help you.
Don't worry about always hating what has always been your favorite time of year. YOU will come back, it just takes time. I know that patience is not one of your virtues, but this time you will have to wait it out. There is no shortcut.
This is not the end of the road for you. You have so much to do in this life, and so many opportunities to honor your love for Phil by living large. He would want that and deep down you know it. You will never be the same after losing Phil. Someday you will value this fact.
As the tears stream down your face many times today, know this: You can survive Phil's death. And you will.
The funny thing about the above list, is that even if I could have told myself all of these things, I doubt I would have believed them. But that's okay. I believe them now, for me and for you. One day you will value the tears you cry today. They are streams of love.
Merry Christmas, darling. Loved, and never forgotten.