The Christmas holidays are still quite a while away but I’ve been thinking and worrying about it since September so it feels like it’s been around for quite a while now. What precisely I’m anxious about has changed each year since Mike died but it has brought emotions and stress each time.
The first Christmas without Mike I just didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to disappear. I didn’t want to see any family or see anyone’s Christmas “cheer.” I didn’t want to celebrate anything or do anything. I didn’t want to buy gifts or go in any male store section to remind me that I wasn’t buying for Mike this year. I would have been perfectly fine if the whole holiday didn’t exist. The year before Mike and I had a wonderful Christmas as our first Christmas as a married couple. We did the whole corny thing - cut down our own tree, buy “first Mr. & Mrs.” ornaments, buy eachother thoughtful stockings and have our own Christmas morning just the two of us. It was ridiculously wonderful and everything I wanted. I remember putting away all the Christmas decorations and thinking about how I couldn’t wait to do it again next year. What a stark contrast the following year was.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.
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.
Two days ago, I experienced my first Mother's Day without Megan. Had you asked me back in January how I would have handled it, I would have expressed sheer terror at the prospect. At that time, just two months since losing her, all I could imagine was that I would be an emotional train wreck, and would probably have just called my mother and mother-in-law to wish them a happy day, and stayed holed up in my house.
That isn't what occurred, however. Yesterday was "OK", for lack of a better term.
Our tradition for the past few years had been for Shelby and I to wake up early, go downstairs, make a mess of the kitchen preparing bacon, eggs, pancakes, and coffee, and bring it to Megan in bed, along with a card and a small gift. Shelby would turn some cartoons on and we'd sit and talk, all three of us, until Megan was ready to get out of bed. It was a simple acknowledgment of how special she was, and that we would do anything for her. We would clean up the kitchen and get our day started, where we would be visiting our parents and probably going out to dinner in the evening.
I woke up Sunday at that same early time that I always do, fully aware that it was Mother's Day, and painfully acknowledging the fact that for the first time in eight years, Megan wasn't there to cook breakfast for. The dogs, having woke me up, were fed and let outside, and I went back to bed. The bacon stayed in the freezer, and the coffee pot sat there cold.
I have struggled with Mother's Day all my life. I lost my own mother when I was nine, many of you know. I don't really remember my father knowing what to do with that day anymore afterwards. We had no other family around to celebrate, and so it just kind of became a non-holiday in our house. I sometimes wish we had continued to make it about her - but maybe he had the right way of doing things. Maybe it was too hard for him, and so he changed it. And perhaps, that was just the better way for us, who knows.
This week in Australia and New Zealand we are leading up to the centenary of our initial engagement in the First World War at Gallipoli in Turkey, an engagement that for Australia is often considered the birth of the nation.
Most of the documentaries, news reports and commemorations surrounding the anniversary are focused on the men who went away and what they faced on the front lines.
But there seems to be very little on those left on the home front so far from the theatres of that war.
Little on those widowed by the war.
Ian and I never particularly did Valentines day. Although I *like* getting the gifts and stuff, I never felt it a necessity. It's a more than a bit over-commercialised to me, which is thankfully quite a protective view-point in my after.
But the day still holds memories. Some good. Some that trigger a sense of guilt.
I'm writing you tonight from my hotel room in Seattle – en route to a four-night stay in Alaska. I hadn't really given any thought to what I was going to write today for this post, as I've spent the better part of the day running around like crazy. It could have been about the usual stuff of Valentine's Day... like how bitchy I've been all week leading up to today. Or how I went into Walgreens yesterday for some picture hanging wire and was assaulted by the pink and red décor that vomited all over the store interior. Or about how sad I was when I woke up this morning or how hard I've tried to stay off of Facebook all day.Read more
I've been back home, in Brisbane, Australia, for a couple of days now. As it seems to go with most vacations, it's so good to go away and then it's so good to get home. Getting off the plane after the 13-hour flight from LA and walking in to the arms of my wonderful parents, who came to town to collect me from the airport, was a good feeling. I had a wonderful time, both in New York exploring a new city, and at Camp Widow. But I felt ready to get back to my bubble.
Another very difficult time of year for many of us widowed people.
Two years ago, Mike came in the door with a delighted grin on his face. He brought me a big box of chocolate from our wonderful local chocolatier, and a new garden hose I’d been wanting, in its own new gift bag he had purchased along with a beautiful card. He was immensely proud of himself that he had made me happy with these small gifts.
Three days later he was dead.Read more