Somewhere between suffering that terrible first Christmas party alone and “Whoo hoo! It’s a Christmas party!” was my last weekend. This is the third holiday party season without my Angel holding my hand (and likely suggesting I wear a different shirt.) I had been dreading the holiday parties but my anticipation of misery far exceeded reality. I was both surprised and relieved.
Last Friday was Maggie’s 36th birthday. In our previous life together, we would have celebrated her birthday by throwing a tremendous party here at our house on Saturday night.
You can’t imagine the festivities and the joyousness (read: drunkenness and debauchery.)
A couple hundred friends from multiple social circles would join together for a night of raucousness, gluttony and full-on drinky drinky. Maggie would spend days preparing this absolute ridiculous spread of cheeses, dips, meats, sweets, cracker-these and basil-thats. There were servicing dishes, pastry dishes, hot dishes and cutting boards filled with gastronomical adventures that people would inhale, praise and ask about for years following (“Hey, Maggie, what was the name of that cheese with the blah-ditty blah blah?” Amazingly, she’d always remember.)
And there was cake.
The party would always rage until way past 3AM.
The next-day cleanup was really a next week process. Not surprisingly, it typically took more than a few weeks to get the smell of beer and food out of the house. But it was fun.
You can’t imagine the huge smile that beautiful woman wore as she floated around the friend-packed room. It was her heaven. And to see her that happy was mine. Perfect.
So here I sit, nearly three years after her Angel Day. Two parties have sprung up out of the absence of ours, both hosted by close friends. Neither party is related; there’s no mention of our party, or even a mention of Maggie and really there shouldn’t be. They are just regular ol’ Christmas parties. The huge group of people has divided, too, and a large group of those who used to attend our parties don’t come to either of the new parties. But I am always invited to both – one on Friday night and one on Saturday.
Last year, my attendance at both of these parties was torturous. Here they were, all these folks who just two years ago were at our house at our party celebrating Maggie’s birthday. Now, here they were, laughing like no one is missing, all happy with their living spouse and happy future. Then there’s me. I hated pretty much every minute. But I put on my party face and smiled until I felt the tears about to break through. I’d dash quickly off to the bathroom or a bedroom and let them rain down until I had control again. Then I’d put my party face back on and pretend it was a happy holiday season. After all, what’s not to be happy about?
But this year was different. I dreaded both parties (I even finally decided to attend one at 10:15PM that night!) But this year the tears didn’t come. Not once did I excuse myself or cover up my watery eyes. Yes, I missed my Maggie but it wasn’t terrible or overpowering. It wasn’t unbearable. It just was the same ol’ everyday pain. In fact, I actually kinda enjoyed seeing some of the ol’ friends again. It had been a while since I’d seen some of them. A year, in fact.
The third time’s the charm. That’s how the saying goes, right?