Matt, Christmas is in twelve days. This will be the seventh Christmas without you. Funny how I fooled myself into thinking this year would have to be easier than the past years. After all, how long does this grief hang on.
I’m finding that once again grief has the upper hand. This time of the year we are bombarded with commercials of perfect, smiling families. Everyone gathered around the big, beautiful tree surrounded with thousands of presents. Then the Hallmark channel drowns us with unrealistic portrayals of the “perfect family” and of course the “perfect Christmas”.
I’m finding these unrealistic expectations of “perfect” add to my anxiety, and regret. I feel like society wants me to wrap up my grief with a beautiful bow and put it in the back of the closet so others won’t be uncomfortable when I’m around.
There are days when I do feel joy. When I hear a song that connects my brain to a happy memory of our past life. Days when the tears stay away and the holiday season doesn’t feel like a knife in my heart. Then for whatever reason, another song leaves me a sobbing mess. Those waves come out of nowhere knocking me off balance. Seeing Christmas cards knowing there will be none from you. Thinking about what to get for your brother and remembering I will no longer be putting a gift under the tree with a tag stating your name.
I decorated your memorial garden with a wreath and poinsettias. Holiday lights are wrapped around the cross. Your stone is surrounded by angels. It’s my place of peace. I feel close to you there and can talk freely about how Iso deeply knowing that you won’t be home for Christmas.
I did put up a small tree this year. Ray wanted a little something to make the house look festive. I decorated, placing a few of my favorite things around the house. It looks sweet when the light glow illuminating the Nativity set on the mantel.
The saddest thing is how Covid has changed the way we celebrate. I have no idea if anyone will come to visit. The lack of family highlights the loss I feel when I remember how the holidays used to be. I wonder how you would have handled this pandemic.
I try to remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas. How the most important thing is acknowledging the birth of Jesus. I remember sitting with you and your brother reading the Christmas story teaching you that Christmas was about much more than just Santa.
The biggest hurdle for me is accepting my reality and letting go of the fantasy I thought life would be. Accepting that you are really gone is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. There are days I have to allow myself to just sit closing my eyes while picturing you sitting by my tree with your children. I see your handsome face and beautiful smile as you help your babes unwrap gifts from me. I picture you drinking coco in the kitchen as we talk about life and the coming year. Some days those fantasies are how I survive.
I don’t know if my grief will ever lessen as I survive the holidays with a broken heart. I will go to church Christmas Eve. I will wear your fingerprint close to my heart. I will cry as I’ve done every year as I see families with children fill the pews.
For Christmas I will pray for my peace and acceptance. I will pray for the strength to welcome another year without you in it. I will pray that past memories will bring more joy than pain. I will pray that you are at peace, healed from your demons and celebrating the birth of Jesus in the beauty of heaven.