Death is a thief. It stole from me the most precious thing, person, I ever had – Peter. When it snatched him in a surprise move, it robbed me of comfort, stability, certainty, definition, companionship, love, and sexuality. Death’s thievery left me abandoned, confused, lonely, afraid, achy and a heart riddled with holes. When Death nabbed Peter, it also took away the one thing I looked forward to every year around this time – the feeling of Christmas.
Christma brings out the child spirit in me. Yes, peace on earth, goodwill toward (wo)men, ho-ho-ho, and all that, but what it comes down to it, Christmas is for my obnoxious child to come out with all its giddiness, the singing, the decorating, the butterflies banging off my belly, and shine. Christmas is my time to let loose from restraints of daily life and offer a smile for someone, the wish of good cheer, the thinking about others. Sure, this should happen year-round, but it doesn’t so bring it on this time of year. Only this year, it hasn’t been brought and Death caused its absence.
Don’t think I am looking too early for it. Since I was a child, the feeling of Christmas began to grow in me the day-after-Halloween candy hangover started. I knew Christmas was going to start to show its wonderful, brilliantly bright self soon. One of the reasons I always loved Thanksgiving was because it was a lantern-lit to show the way to Christmas’ arrival. I squealed at the sight of Christmas movies. I clapped at the commercials with Santa drinking a cola. I smiled and hummed along with the piped Christmas music in the grocery stores. Yes, I was that person…but not anymore…not this year. I can’t even pretend to be.
Peter once described our house at Christmas as a place where Santa threw up. I’d like to think it was where Santa sprayed his magic, but whatever. Yes, I did decorate in collections of Rudolph, and elves, and Santas, and an entire Christmas village, and three Christmas trees, and obnoxious-looking snowmen. I did try to hit each and every nook and cranny of our house with Christmas, much to Peter’s chagrin.
See, Peter wasn’t big on Christmas. Okay, sometimes he could be downright grouchy around the Holidays. He never showed it to our kids when they were young, but as they got older, it was harder for him to disguise it. Peter thought Christmas was too commercial. He probably was right. Okay, he was. But I did love me Christmas commercialism. Peter was the one who asked all the time, “why are we at our best only during this time of the year? Why not always?” I had no answer as I hung my twenty-fifth elf. I don’t think it helped his birthday, a few days before, was overshadowed by Christmas.
Yet, Peter tolerated my love. More than tolerated, he indulged it. One year, he built me an outdoor manger to put three-foot plastic light up statues in it which became our staple outdoor decoration. Every year, he put up the outdoor lights. And, last year, he designed and constructed a cool Christmas-tree out of wood for my village. He knew and appreciated my adoring love for Christmas…despite his sometime Grinchness toward it. It was his love language. Another thing that made him beautiful. And this year, he will be gone, and I have no feeling of Christmas. I fear it’ll just be another day.
I don’t know how I am going to get through this Christmas without him. Truly. I’m not giving one of those flippant ‘oh I don’t know how”. I am baffled as to how I will get through the pain and the loneliness. I have gotten through so much, but this? Well, this will be my hardest climb. If I didn’t get back pain from sleeping too long in a bed, sleeping through the holidays in my escape apartment would be an option.
I already miss teasing Peter into a crooked smile by singing Christmas songs at the top of my lungs, or bringing home ‘just one more Clarice’, or wearing a gaudy Christmas sweater. I already know the manger he made me will most likely stay up in the rafters of the garage this year. I don’t want the travel tree and all its ornaments from the places we went together up this year. It’s a given the small tree cut from the backyard this year, the final Christmas at our house, will be scarcely decorated. The Wigilia dinner on Christmas Eve may not taste the same this year as it will be made by my son from all the talents he got from his father. I won’t be touching any of the ugly Christmas sweaters hanging in my closet. Hell, all my Christmas joy, all the traditions I had in place, were robbed from the day Peter was stolen from life.
Please don’t say it’s early for Christmas, because it’s not early, not for me, not in all my years of life. Please don’t say I may get the feeling back because if I do, it’ll still be different since Peter, for the first time in thirty-plus Christmases, will no longer a part of mine. Please don’t say for me to take it one day at a time because Christmas was always my jump and it is gone. Please don’t say you have to push through it because of course, I have to, but I don’t want to push through anything anymore. I am exhausted from pushing through everything these past four months. And please don’t say get through this one and after this one, it’ll get better, because that but it doesn’t help what I’m feeling now. “It’ll get better” doesn’t give me any of my Christmas joy back now. It only brings impatience for what might not come.
I know Death is part of Life’s entire cycle. I get it. Still, it is not a kind part. It’s a thieve and a crook and leaves me abandoned and sad and longing for all of what I once had, including Christmas. Death stole from me the best once-were moments of the year. And it sucks. And Death sucks. And Peter being dead sucks. Yesterday, all I could do was cry about it because I cannot bring it back this year. I can’t bring Peter back ever…and with it, this year’s Christmas joy.