Ok. So it’s here. Officially. It’s our first Christmas since he’s been … dead. I’ve made it. Barely. But I’m standing and so are my children.
It wasn’t so much Christmas Day I had dreaded. It was everyday leading up to it that met me with memories, grief, heartache and tears. I just missed him. As I am sure, you so desperately missed your person.
This season, these are the things that got me, almost killed me, brought me to my knees, and what I survived. Maybe you can relate.
Shopping for the perfect gifts. He loved books and shared his love of reading with family. Almost yearly he would pick out books specifically for our children and parents and my brother – political for his dad, Stephen King for my Dad, cook books for my brother and crosswords for my mom. I would buy him the newest Stephan King book, even the years we spent apart. This year when I seen the newest addition to the King literature , I just stared at it. I don’t even remember the title of the book, for a second I wanted to grab it off the shelf and stomp on it, and then I just wanted to buy it, and wrap it carefully as I did every year… and after he opened it I would say “does this man ever stop writing!” He’d laugh, and quickly run his thumb over the pages.
Putting up the Christmas Tree. If you’re missing your person, and this is the first Christmas without him or her, this task can be daunting. It was for me. If I had been alone, I may not have done it; but I did it for the kids while we recalled happier times. Maybe you didn’t put up decorations, maybe you did. Whatever you did, or didn’t do, if it felt right for you then that is ok. I’m thankful I did put it up; I did skip out on the outdoor decorations though…. too much for me this year.
Christmas light touring. We’d get Tims, make popcorn, load up the kids and go for a drive around the city and look at the lights. We didn’t do that this year either. It felt too cheerful for me and to close to the heart. I miss him rubbing the back of my neck when he would drive and playing Dominick the Christmas Donkey and singing together while our son would be annoyed.
Wrapping the presents. This damn near killed me. The first night my attempt left me exhausted, puffy eyed, and feeling lonelier than I had felt in a while. I cried between gifts, I sobbed with each tag I filled out for the kids, and for the tags I could no longer fill out for him. I wished he was there, having a drink with me, wrapping gifts while we watched our favourite shows. I had to ask my girlfriend to help me finish the task because I was to warn from the first attempt to do it alone. I am so grateful for her.
Family gatherings, small and big. Ugh. Having him there to put his hand on my leg, or grab my hand. I swear there were moments with family I could hear him laugh at a joke or comment, or imagine what he would do or say in certain moments. I could see him with a glass of rum and Coke in the evenings and a coffee in the mornings. There were many times I would have to leave to catch my breath or have a cry in the bathroom. I just so desperately missed his presence and having my best friend there to enjoy in, or run from those family gatherings.
Going to bed. This has been an ongoing struggle for me for many reasons… the nightmares, the tears, the pain, but during the holidays it is the cold that does it. I miss having him to jump into bed with just to warm up, our legs intertwined and our foreheads pressed together. We’d relish in each others warmth while he’d kiss my forehead and I’d burry my head in his chest.
Finally, those quiet moments. Occasionally there’d be a break in people talking, or a hush in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. In those moments he would often catch my eye and we’d share a smile meant for only us. Those quick but heart wrenching moments left me in tears many times over the holidays.
I miss him so much.
Getting out of bed was hard as hell some days. But I did it. I survived and so did you. We made it through with a little help from family and friends. With the small hope we found watching our children or having a fond memory. Whatever it was that pulled us through, we survived Christmas and the extra grief that comes with it.