It’s done. Christmas is in my rearview mirror and I am watching out for what lies ahead. It’s the day after Christmas. My daughter is still sleeping, but will soon be moving around, getting ready to go back to her own home, five hours away. My son is in his apartment enjoying his first week of Christmas Break at the high school he teaches. And I’m packed up, ready to get back to my apartment, Discovery, to recover from my exhaustion. As a friend noted, it’s tiring pushing through days and I’ve done my fair share of pressing on.
I spent six days here at the home Peter and I built. In six days, I ‘buried’ my husband with the scattering of his ashes, spent time with my children, went to see my mother who thought my son was Peter throughout the visit with bits of recognition thrown in, and I dragged myself through Christmas Eve and Christmas with a surprising sense of this-isn’t-so-bad. Still, it was one of the longest six days of my life, and lately, my life has been one long recording put on a loop.
This Christmas wasn’t horrible, but of course, it couldn’t be anywhere near good. I didn’t feel overly sad, overly grieved, in fact, I didn’t feel much of anything other than empty. I was actually void of any emotions. I didn’t even cry opening presents like I once did. I think it’s hard to cry when your reserves are all gone, or perhaps I turned them off just to get by. Oh, I had my moments. My Christmas Eve dinner was mainly untouched as anxious sadness robbed me of any appetite. When we saw Star Wars, the kids and I, some tears fell because this is something we did as a family – watch sci-fi movies – only one main person was missing. And of course last night, upon reflection of the days, I cried of everything I missed as a wife, as Peter’s wife. That may seem like I had a horrible two days, but they were actually better than I thought. Of course, it could be I am so tapped out emotionally.
My son’s girlfriend came over after Christmas dinner. I was quiet. Not who I thought I am. I never thought of myself as quiet. But, by the time she arrived, I was out of words and emotions. I was a numb shell of myself. I feel bad for my son’s girlfriend. I’m not sure she’s ever seen the real me. She spent the most time with me after Peter died, during the times I was grieving the hardest. And, to be honest, I still don’t know who the real me is anymore. She’s a sweet person. A good match for my son. I’m glad they’re together. And I hope, one day, when I evolve to knowing who I am with some sort of consistency, I can be fun and not this boring, moppy person with Grief as my constant companion.
I didn’t go to church this Christmas. I couldn’t. The spirit wasn’t there, which included celebrating in my Christian ways. I’m not sure I’m even angry at God. I was told anger is really disappointment. Maybe that’s more accurate – I’m disappointed in God. I have brought some prayer back into me, although these past six days, those have taken a vacation again. I think I’m just tired of pretending at every turn, including being comfortable in a church, in a God I still struggle to understand and Her ways. It is one of my last grief hurdles to get over, and there are so many ahead of me still. I know I want to get there, and maybe that counts for something. If I knew Peter was happy and with God, perhaps I would have jumped over that hurdle a long time ago. But I don’t. I never will. And so, I am still in training to jump.
The kids were wonderful this year. We all had Grief hanging over us like some unwanted fog. But they were good, great in fact, wonderful for sure. They filled my stocking like Peter used to do, and gave me extremely thoughtful gifts this year. My son gave me a tall, drinking mug with my book’s cover on it to match the one he got for me with my first book. He understands how much writing means and these two mugs will always be treasured. My daughter blew me away. She ordered me a Kintsugi bowl. Kintsugi is a Japanese tradition where broken pottery is put back together and the cracks are filled with gold. It had not arrived yet, but she elegantly wrote me a note. In it, she explained how the bowl is reflective of my life right now. My life was shattered by Peter’s Death, she wrote, and now I’m rebuilding it. I will have to live with the cracks, but perhaps create something beautiful in the process, something golden. I know. I’m still in awe and touched by both of their beauty in gift-giving.
But it’s all done now. It’s over. I am done with Christmas. I’m over the first Christmas without Peter. I went through another hard time and, well, got through it. I do feel aftershocks, always, with my emotions, and I think the tears, Grief, the not-want-to-move are coming. I’m already looking forward to a veg day today. I know I have some busy days ahead that I will, again, have to tap into my reserves to move through. I think in January, I may just collapse. Or maybe not. Time will tell. In the meantime, bye-bye Christmas. Death, I made it through. Peter, I missed you.