Yesterday was one of the worst days I have had since you have passed. I did not wake up that way, I did not go to sleep that way the night before, I did not wake thinking about you as I have so many other days. I woke feeling light and joyful in my heart.
You know that Kristina and I do not have a large home. It is a blessing and a curse. A curse because when we are all in it, it can feel even smaller than it normally feels. A blessing because you cannot fill a small home full of unnecessary things, there simply is no where to put them. I know it will not always be this way for us and for now we will survive. Kristina and I are also not big decorators. Our home is a representation of our shared love of traveling. Most of the space is covered with pictures we took, of places we have been. Collecting memories not things. We have very few things (at least we think that until we have to box them up to move them someday.) Long story short we came to this marriage with minimal Christmas decorations. Primarily because we are minimalist and primarily because neither of us had the space or need to go nuts with it.
Last week I woke up with the insane desire to decorate for Christmas. This would be hard for two reasons. As mentioned above…space and contents. We did what we could with what we had and I went out on an adventure to fill up the rest of the space. That desire is not something I ever had and the need to do it was just as unfamiliar as the desire. When you passed we hurriedly worked through the bulk of your things, and anyone who knows you would know that a majority of them were Christmas things. Your Christmas always had a theme, owls, Santa’s, angels…and since none of them felt like me, I only took a few of the things that I felt had true sentimental value to you. The things that I did pick out though, of my own, had you written all over them, as if you willed me to grab them.
If you had had your way, you would have left Christmas decorations up all year. They brought you so much Peace. Very few things did, but having your Christmas out was one of them. You loved the quiet moments in the morning just staring at your tree. Dee Dee put one of your trees up in your room shortly before you passed. I am not sure if you were aware or not, but I hope it brought you peace.
So yesterday morning, with joy in my heart and lightness in my being, I made my coffee, turned on all of our Christmas lights, turned on the Christmas instrumental playlist, sat down to have a moment in my own personal Christmas space and just like that, the loss, the absence of you was felt as profoundly as I felt it the night I watched your body leave your home. It was that painful, it was that gut wrenching, it was that final. And the rest of the day was like this, until I got in bed.
Half of a strand of lights burnt out and it became my mission to find replacements. Like a maniac, that mission turned in to a visit to every single store in town that carried Christmas lights only to find that none, not one, carried what I needed with a white cord. Every light in this God forsaken town has a green cord. 9 stores later with more decorations, groceries and other household supplies that we probably didn’t need, I returned home not having the one thing that sent me out in the first place. I felt defeated. Beaten. Lost. I sat through lunch, half choking it down, half almost gagging on it because I could not stop crying. My first holiday without you was approaching and I was a pile. I lost count of the number of times you said “this could be my last Christmas.” I lost count of the number of times Sister said, “oh she always says that.”
What I realized happened yesterday is how much I have put off grieving you. In trying to honor you, in trying to live a life I thought you would be proud of, I forgot the process I was going through of reconciling the loss of you. Instead what happened was a torrent wave of grief and realization that this will be my first holiday as an orphan. And Dee Dee and Jarod’s. We will never spend another holiday with you or Dad. Even though I had known this when you passed, it is an entirely different feeling as the first holiday is approaching. I thought I was prepared but I was not.
The day we decorated was a hard day and I fully suspect there will be more of them to come. Everyone who has experienced loss knows what I am talking about and can speak to it. If they don’t, good for them, but I promise you they take it for granted, because we all do. Time is the one thing we think we have an infinite amount of. Funny…it is the exact opposite.
I suspect in my heart I knew last Christmas was your last as did you. It was about the worst you had ever looked in your life and trust me, there were some bad times. This will be the hardest Christmas of my life. But I hope that by doing something I have never done before that I will feel you.
In the twinkle of the lights.
In the silence and stillness of the morning.
In the Christmas music I hear.
In the beauty of a snow fall.
In the giving of the gifts.
In by honoring Christmas in my heart, and trying to keep it all the year.