I am trying to get festive. I really am. But little things tick me off.
Like Christmas decorations. Particularly the really garish ones. And the plastic snowmen. The ones in our house are okay. Right now, that’s the sum total of an undecorated Christmas tree. And fairy lights that never actually went down after Christmas 2017. Somehow they have stayed permanent, if not always lit.
Like Christmas greetings. Particularly the, “2020 will be better than 2019”. Well, I heard that at the end of 2018, the end of 2017, the end of 2016 and the end of 2015. I now hold my tongue as a response, and if I am feeling benevolent respond with a light, “gosh – I do hope so”.
Like Christmas chit chat. “You must be so happy to have Ben and Megan home”. Yes – I am. And their presence, while comforting and warm and noisy and large is not comforting or warm or noisy or large enough. Julia’s absence is ever-present. More than ever. I slept in her bed two nights ago, when both my big ones were home. I have barely been in her room since she died. I haven’t wanted to be there. But I wanted to be in her bed on Saturday night. I needed to be in her bed, just as I had got Ben & Megan home safe and sound.
Like Christmas letters. I can’t even go there. But one was particularly painful as it talked of a very exciting and special time that was slap bang the day before the letter writer joined me in my family in Geneva for my youngest child’s funeral. When I think what I was doing those days – visiting the morgue, finding clothes for my dead child, meeting the celebrant and arranging for Julia’s friends to come and talk, preparing a funeral speech, arranging for beds for visitors, talking to police, cooking meals galore. Cathy N – your Christmas letter remains a firm favourite – a type of Christmas letter that I have long wanted to emulate and haven’t managed to do yet. But I live in hope.Read more
I don’t like dessert, so I will not be serving it with our Thanksgiving dinner.
I have never really liked dessert.
And, Mike didn’t like dessert either.
I wonder if that is a coincidence?
I think not.
I can tell you that I don’t think there are any coincidences in life,
even when it comes to dessert.
I almost always pass on dessert.
I’d rather have seconds than eat sweets.
Honestly, I’d rather eat more steak and crab (that's a story for another day).
I like savoury foods because that’s how I like my people too.
I like people who speak and act with a bit of tang.
I like people who are spicy, with a side of sweet.
Even though I don't like dessert, I do desire the sweet things in life.
Sweet things like a walk in the rain.
A good book.
A good conversation.
A laugh that fills the room.
A kiss that takes your breath away.
I like these things.
I crave these things.
I need these things.
I desperately miss all these sweet things I shared with Mike.
Things like sunshine gleaming off a wine glass as I shared a meal with him.
Things like slow dancing in the kitchen.
I miss looking across the room and knowing that he would smile
and wink at me because I was his.
I still wish I was his girl.
And, a piece of me always will wish this.
I miss him desperately everyday; and during the holidays
I miss him even more than usual.
Like I said, I don't like dessert; but I am a sucker for the sweet things in life.
I love a good love story.
And, I keep re-playing ours in my mind.
I don't think this will ever change.
As I was cook our holiday meals I know that I am loved
- even without him here telling me these words.
Love does not die, it actually becomes stronger and even deeper.
I'm thankful for this.
Everyone has a favorite holiday. Mine is Halloween. I decorate the house inside and out. I spend tireless hours on costumes. I await my first haunted house of the season with eager anticipation. I’ve always liked this holiday, but it wasn’t until after Drew died that it became something I appreciated more deeply.
Just 4 months after he died, my first Halloween without him arrived. I had no energy for costumes or decorating. I was still a complete wreck. But I did do one thing still - I went to a haunted house with one of my oldest friends. It was the first time to do anything of tradition without him.
When my friend and I entered the world of this dark and creepy place… something really incredible happened for me. For the 20 minutes or so we were inside, I was not a widow. I was just... me. Running scared and laughing with my friend through a house of horrors. Yep. Laughing! And feeling deeply alive. As we came bolting out the exit, the euphoric adrenaline was unforgettable. It was one of the first things that gave me proof that I indeed could still FEEL all these wonderful things. Because trust me, I was so broken that I was honestly scared to death that I would never be able to feel true joy ever again. I had a very literal fear of this. And that night as I came out of the haunted house, I realized I could indeed still laugh and still feel joy - even doing things I loved with him. It was a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, I could make it through this. Just maybe, I would be okay.
My new partner Mike and I went to a haunted house last night, and as it always does, it took me back in time and had me reflecting back...Read more
Yesterday was memorial day in the United States. Every year, on the last Monday in May, we Americans fire up the grill, go to parades, ignite fireworks, buy red-white-and-blue everything, and celebrate the unofficial start of summer. We hang our flags, complain about the heat, and have a drink or four to commemorate the day off from work.
Meanwhile, like many holidays in the United States, we forget the actual meaning and purpose of the holiday. Memorial Day was originally called “Decoration Day”, and no, it didn’t signify decorating our McMansions with red white and blue windsocks and ensuring our patio furniture had just the right feng shui to go with our new $700 grill that we got at a Memorial Day blowout sale. It was originally intended as a somber event to honor Union soldiers who had died during the American Civil War. One would visit a cemetery to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers. It morphed into including all men and women of any war after World War I.
History lessons aside, it’s a tough day for many widows, but for the majority of Americans, it’s a day off.Read more
In every store you visit the shelves are lined with colorful, foil wrapped chocolate bunnies. They stand neatly organized in the aisles, adorned with ribbons and bows. At first glance, these holiday treats catch your eye because they look shiny and decadent. But, things aren't as they appear. We know the bunnies are hollow inside even though they look substantial. I am a lot like these chocolate Easter bunnies. I appear to have my life together. I look solid. But, the reality is that inside I feel empty.
This may come off as slightly dramatic, but it is the truth. After over 16 months, my life looks shiny and newly restored. Outwardly, things have remained stable and solid. In many ways I am a vision of widowed success. I returned to a good career, I still have the house, the car, and the kids. On the outside, the condition of my life looks good. Aside from Mike's death, my life may even be enviable to some; but things are not as they appear. Like the aesthetically pleasing chocolate bunnies, I look to be well dressed and professionally presented; but, inside me there is something lacking. Inside of me, in my Soul, the landscape is sterile. I am hollow inside like the foil bunnies. On the inside of me there is 'nothing'. Where there used to be unbridled joy there is now emptiness.
When I was a kid, Christmases were pure joy and fun. It meant cousins, grandparents, decorations, special dinners, holiday treats, and sometimes, winter fun like snowmen and sledding. It meant no school, warm fires, music sing-a-longs and laughter.
Pretty soon I grew up. Christmases were still, for a few years, about family and love and gift giving. Then I met Mike, and being a wife, having a husband, brought new meaning. I was no longer the child but the grown-up, doing the cooking, shopping and wrapping presents. Taking joy in creating and presenting the spirit of the season in the faith we shared.
The last Christmas we spent together in 2012 might have been the best one because Mike was excited like he’d never been with me yet. He helped decorate our little tree, put up the lights, and choose presents to give. I remember sitting outside on our lanai gazing at the lights and ornaments with him. I remember his sense of peace, that year. I always wonder if he knew the end was near for him, because somehow, it felt different. I had no idea it would be our last. But looking back, I wonder if he did.
As we near Shelby’s 11th Christmas, what will be our third without Megan around, I’ve got my head down. I’m powering through this week at work, excited more for the 4 day break from the monotony than any festivities. Every activity, preparation, and event seems more like a “have to” than a “get to”. Wrapping gifts, baking cookies, school Christmas recitals, stringing lights along the house, shoveling snow, and trimming a tree are all perceived as just “one more thing I need to take care of”, rather than “another thing I GET to do”.
I’m stressed. Work is extra busy. There are countless projects at home that we have to take care of before this weekend. I’m sick of looking at blinky lights, knowing that I have to pack them all back up within a few weeks. All of the beautiful snow we had last week has now melted into a sloppy wet mess. The house feels cluttered and somehow smaller than it already is. Bills still need paid. God I hate this time of year.
This year, Christmas has given me a lot to consider. Reminders to give myself ample time to take care of all that needs doing, so I don’t get overwhelmed. To give myself at least 30 minutes each day to myself, to do something that relaxes me, like yoga or taking a walk or drawing, in order to help me stay sane. That daily maintenance has been a Godsend. Not only has it kept me sane, it’s left space for me to actually enjoy the holidays… and maybe *gasp* be excited about the season for the first time in years.
It’s also given me more space to feel the loss. Not only of the people I love who have died, but also of the traditions I’ve lost with them. This has been one of the things my counselor and I have been talking about quite a bit lately. Loss of tradition. I honestly don’t think I’d even considered how significant that was until now. How much it has affected my Christmas experience my entire life.Read more
Ahhh yes...the holidays. It is a constant ride of ups and downs, like the world’s most depressing roller coaster. Kicking off with Thanksgiving. Spending time with friends and family, circled around a hearty dinner and laughter, I get to remember that Megan died just a week before that day. I don’t get to remember the 33 prior enjoyable Thanksgiving dinners. It doesn’t work. All I can recall is sitting in my parents’ dining room, crying, and having to leave the room in the middle of dinner.
Then, following that Thursday comes the epitome of consumerism...Black Friday. I avoid anyplace that may sell something like the plague that day. “You’re not going to con me into buying your baubles, Mr. Scrooge!” as I shake my fist in the air. But it’s fruitless. Inevitably, I'll need to fuel up my car, and Christmas music will be playing everywhere, even at the gas station. Sure enough, “Blue Christmas”, or “I’ll be home for Christmas” will softly emanate from a tinny speaker somewhere. Done. You’ve succeeded, Ebeneezer, in depressing me.
Five and a half years later
There are days when I just want to disappear
To run away from everything
All the materialism of Christmas especially
Because no matter how hard I try
No matter how many lights are on the house
No matter how many ornaments are on the tree
No matter how many Christmas songs are played
So much is missing too...