Matt, December 3rd marked the 35th month since your death. 35 months. I still can’t believe you are really gone. I heard the second year was tougher than the first. Never in a million years could I ever allow my mind to believe it to be true. It seems the protective fog has blown out to sea leaving me a clear view of the empty shoreline.
This second year has beat me to the ground. My cocoon shredded and blown away with the wind. My mind reminds me daily that you are dead. I feel naked, stripped of the protection that the shock of grief provided during those first months when my mind was in complete denial. Grief protects you from reality. The brain builds that impenetrable wall able to withstand the assault of reality. The second year, cracks begin to form and the wall slowly begins to crumble at your feet. Leaving you with a clear view of life.
Last year I was numb. Able to go through the motions of life. My holiday mask was intact and firmly secured to my face as I navigated my way through the usual festivities. My mind allowed me the fantasy that you were alive. Living in Florida. My mind allowed my heart to stay on track providing multiple distractions keeping the grief under wraps in public. This year I’ve found the mask has dissolved from the flow of my tears. This year my grief has gained power. This year my grief doesn’t seem to care that this is the happiest time of the year.
Your loss continues to stun me. I’m shocked when reality slaps me with the knowledge that you won’t be coming home for Christmas when I hear that holiday song. Reality grabs my heart and causes me to forget to breathe. I was told in time I would get angry. I’M ANGRY. I’m angry at our reality. I’m angry at happy strangers shopping with a spring in their step and joy on their faces. I’m angry that my grief continues to hurt so deeply. I’m angry that I’ve just survived Thanksgiving and Christmas is being shoved down my throat. Not everyone is merrily anticipating holiday traditions. For some of us our holidays will never be the same. I’m angry that the woman I see in the mirror is not who I used to be.
This second year has a power I could have never anticipated. My mind now clear vividly remembers painful events. My guilt has returned full force. My double whammy. Grief and guilt have renewed their friendship bullying me every chance they get. My mind remembers things it buried to protect my shattered heart. Things said and done during your addiction. The I should haves or could haves haunt me like ghosts from Christmas past. I look at family pictures. You and Mike on Santa’s lap. Childhood innocence. A time of joy and anticipation of things to come. Never did I see this coming. Never did I ever think my youngest son would be gone in the blink of an eye.
I hear strangers stating what they want for Christmas. Children rattle off a list of toys. Adults want more money, a better job or world peace. I cringe and feel the tears start to form. The song, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”, starts playing in my head. I close my eyes squeezing as hard as I can. Trying desperately to balance myself on the edge of my abyss.
I want a visit from the ghost of Christmas past. I want to see my boys squeal with delight as they rip into beautifully wrapped gifts. I want to hear the laughter of two boys as they compare super hero capes. I want to feel the joy and completeness of having my family intact. I want to travel back in time. Before you became adults. Before your injury led you down the path of no return. I want to fix what is broken. I want to close my eyes and see you walk in my door. I want to hear “Hey Mom, Merry Christmas”. As your wife and kids wrap me in a hug. I want to see you and Mike standing side by side belly laughing as a childhood memory cracks you up. I want every chair at the table full. I want to raise a glass and toast to a future full of possibilities.
Unfortunately, A Christmas Carol is just that. A fantasy script written long ago addressing second chances. Our reality is a painful reminder that death doesn’t give a redo. There will be no second chances for us. No more watching you and Mike standing together surrounded by your family. No more holiday pictures full of smiles and joy. No more hearing a Christmas song without the punch of grief taking my breath away.
This year when everyone else is dreaming of a White Christmas, I’ll be dreaming of the family we used to be…….