You died April 1st. I’m thinking you either planned it that way so we could all have a chuckle or it was fate’s hand that dealt that date for you to pass on to the other side. It’s been six months and there’s not a day, an hour or a minute that I’m not thinking about you. Sometimes I feel like I’ve even convinced myself that you’re on a trip somewhere and will return within days. Like you’re some kind of spy or something; which you’re not, are you? I feel that you’re with me sometimes, a real presence. I’ve felt you hold my hand and gently kiss my cheek. Hence the idea that you’re still alive.
Your death has been the worst thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life. Not that I’ve had the most disturbing life on earth but I’ve had some ups and downs. But nothing compares to this, this emptiness inside me. For so many years we were one, one unit it seemed. And we worked well together, my ying to your yang. We fought, sure, like most couples. But our love and respect for one another was always paramount.
Our children miss you every day. I sometimes feel their pain when they’re with me. Sometimes it’s hard to know if that pain is for me or for the fact that you’ve passed on. They do worry about me, I know that. They do their best to lift me up and help me deal with such a huge loss, with you leaving this earth.
So, we’re coming up to Christmas, your favorite time of year. How you loved getting the best tree and hanging the lights on that tree as though you were a designer dressing your favorite model. You always took your time to make the most of those lights. And then you’d spend hours in the dark with them on, just relaxing and admiring your handiwork. That was such a precious moment. That and Christmas morning. How I loved our Christmases together, getting up before the children on Christmas day and sitting by the tree, having our coffee, anticipating our children’s glee as they discovered the pile of toys and gifts left by Santa. I loved the smell of you cooking up a feast in the kitchen – bacon, sausages, hash browns, eggs and toast and pots of coffee – while they played quietly with their new toys. Even as teenagers we would wake them up and gather around the tree to share in the joys. I wish I could go back and soak it all in again.
And then as adults, to have had our infant grandson with us was the icing on the cake. How that little boy took in all of the glory of Christmas morning. And as he grew it became more and more about tradition. Each Christmas would follow the other. To be honest, there wasn’t anything too special about them, not to someone maybe looking in. But to us, Christmas was the most wonderful and glorious day we shared together. You’ll no longer be stringing the lights or making the coffee or playing with your grandson. This year we’ll think of you, think of all the love you gave us, how you loved your family with all your heart and soul. This year you’ll be the angel on top of the tree.
Not long after you died I took it upon myself to plan a Christmas that wouldn’t be in our home. I knew for me it would be too hard, too many memories that would pop up again and again and I’d be brought to my knees with grief. So I rented two rooms at a hotel downtown so the children and I could feel like we were away somewhere. Anywhere but home, where those memories are so sharp and clear. We’ll walk around the city looking for Christmas, we’ll make new traditions and of course integrate our old ones too. But you’ll be gone, and it’ll be tough. I pray I’ll be able to get through it without feeling too sad or too angry or too alone.
I never imagined I’d be in this position, this place where I’m the maker of my own life, where I don’t rely on anyone to discuss what I’m going to do or be. I’m just here, still ever so slightly attached to you but also learning how to be on my own. So far it’s been difficult but I only hope you’ll guide me to new beginnings, like this special Christmas in the city. We’ll hope for some snow and lots of laughter. And you, the angel on the tree, will be in our hearts.
Your love will see us through.
Photos courtesy of Martha Farley – all rights reserved