I am finding it hard to find any Christmas spirit this year.
I have no idea if I have bought the children presents that they will enjoy... just a couple of small gifts to keep up the pretense of Santa.
I have not sent a Christmas card in years ... they remind me too much of all those funeral "thank you" cards that sat on my dining room table and mocked me for months after Greg's death before I threw the lot of them in the bin and decided I just wasn't going to do it and if anyone was offended, tough luck.
I am no longer a Christian, so there is no religious element to lift my spirits.
I don't sing carols anymore: I used to enjoy singing so much. They are now meaningless to me.
I sit through Christmas services at the church where I was married and where we had Greg's funeral service. I go for my children. That they still have any faith is incredible to me when mine has gone.
I love the minister as he is a truly lovely man, but the words he speaks don't reach my ears. My heart is closed to the words that used to fill me with joy.
I smile at the people who look at me, wondering why my mouth does not open to sing and why I remain seated instead of taking communion.
None of it feels real to me anymore.
None of it has any meaning.
None of it gives me hope or joy or peace.
(Side note - if religion gives you peace, that's great! It just doesn't do it for me).
But I have found something else that smoothes a balm onto my jangled nerves.
Another source of comfort when it is all I can do not to try to scratch my skin off so that I feel something.
A way of making things bearable when they are definitely not OK.
....and it comes in the form of other widows and widowers who don't try to make everything joyful or happy or peaceful.
Who know what it is like to choose life and light every morning when there are days that you can only see the darkness.
Who laugh at how absurd it is that we have both found ourselves here (How the hell did we get here? Really? here? He's dead? dead! How did that even happen? How is this even possible?).
Each and every widow who looks around and wonders how the hell they arrived hereand reaches out to another person wondering the same thing makes this season bearable.
They don't knit Christmas decorations and coat the house in tinsel and fake goodwill and love to all humans...
... they actually mean that love.
I hate that you guys have to be here with me, but I thank you for being here.
You are definitely making a difference.