Trite: Blue Christmas

During Advent, every tap of the play button on my ipod assaulted me with someone’s version of “Blue Christmas.” So perhaps I shouldn’t have had 5 or 6 different versions on my ipod. There’s Elivs, Wynnona, She and Him, Michael Buble’—well I don’t remember the others. Doesn’t matter because it was a constant parade. Despite the fact that Adam usually sends me songs, this didn’t have his hallmark. It was a random, machine-based luck of the draw. I resented it, especially when I neglected to press “shuffle” and all of them played in tandem.

I should have paid attention because it was a very blue Christmas. A dark and inky indigo. Was looking forward to not hosting for the first time in a long time. Was looking forward to spending the holiday with my in-laws, and the day itself at my sister’s new house. But as gifts were passed around Christmas morning, I went from sky blue to teal to indigo to navy, to midnight. Tears. Could’t stop. Not wracking grief, but incessant, irrepressible, annoying leakage that embarrassed me and rendered me useless.

Last year I hosted, despite having just lost Adam, and I pushed through the fortnight with a combination of adrenaline and the lingering numbness of loss. I had none of that this year. I was left to myself, a confirmed mess.

For whatever reason I couldn’t wait to bug out to the refuge of my in-laws’ house. It just seemed that they would understand better when I turned up a mess. Even better—they were napping when we arrived and I was able to sneak off to my room and weep in privacy.

A friend of theirs who is dear to me was coming for cocktail hour, giving me a reason to get out of bed and pull myself together. The rest of the evening was magical and enjoyable, a 180-degree relief.

My story is, I suppose, an illustration for you should you think it’s time to be “over it,” and you’re far from “over it” (which you will never be, I must remind you). I didn’t expect to be laid low. I did so well last year. Just goes to show that maybe Dr. Phil is wrong as his philosophy pertains to grief: the best predictor of future behavior is, among grievers, perhaps not past behavior.

Find Your Family; Be at Peace

Tonight, December 23, I have chosen to spend with my in-laws. It’s not a rejection of my birth family, but rather a conscious and fortuitious choice offered me by fate.

My sister bought a new house in November and she happens to live in the same town as my in-laws. In her drive to see the new house, my mom announced her unilateral decision: she would spend Christmas at my sister’s house. Damn the torpedoes.

That’s fine with me. In fact, not putting on Christmas this year just rocks.

So I find myself tonight at my in-laws’ house, and there’s no place I’d rather be.

I hope that those of you grieving the loss of your spouse (or other loved one) this Christmas can find the solace I have in my in-laws, be they parents or siblings of your loved one. I understand that this relationship can be fraught with unresolved issues, but I hope you can put them aside and enjoy spending time with each other and recalling the memories you all share of your loved one.

Peace and blessings….

Christmas Hope

A short message of hope, again! Today had a lovely lunch with ladies from my bereavement group. I wish them all a peaceful holiday as they traverse this unwelcome ground. As they travel to be with family, or welcome children home, I hope they can find healing with each other.

I had a *great* time tonight at a party given by friends. Saw old friends who’ve been absent from my life, and was so grateful. I’m reminded so often of the richness that remains in my life, despite the loss that is still felt so keenly.

As I’ve said before, Adam likes to talk to me through music, and tonight I heard, through the cacophony, “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd. Always one of his favorite bands, I knew a song by Pink was from Adam, and this one was particularly poignant. Love you, still, my dear friend. It’s all I can say.

Really Down

It’s been really hard lately. Since the beginning of Thanksgiving week it’s been one thing after another, and no small things either. I’ve really felt the sting of being alone. Having to make every decision, big and small, on my own with no one to help or consult. As you all probably know, friends and family are so supportive, but they can’t replace a spouse.

As usual when a holiday, anniversary, or other important date looms, I over-scheduled myself. To my huge embarrassment I completely forgot a friend was coming to visit one night and was doing my evening routine when she arrived. That’s the first episode of forgetfulness that I remember, and my memory has gone downhill from there.

Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I returned from errands and began to unload my car. When I returned to the garage for a second load, there was smoke pouring from under the hood. The smell was acrid and said electrical fire. I opened the passenger door to see if the key was still in the ignition; it was not, but something under the hood was whirring continuously. I got the hood open and the smoke just poured out. All I could think of was the car going up in flames and catching my house on fire. For a moment I just stared at the car in astonishment and kept asking myself why there was no partner in my life to help me. To make a very long story short, a part under recall had malfunctioned, meaning the repair was the responsibility of the dealership. However the fire destroyed the alternator as well, and I am in a dispute with the manufacturer about who should pay for the alternator repair.

I’m lucky to have a stable of cars, so after the fire I’d been driving our oldest car, the old van we bought when our kids were toddlers, a 1996 Chrysler Town and Country. On Friday the starter died. So I now have two cars in the shop.

This fall has seen an unending parade of financial stressors, from the rip-off that is the accoutrements of high school’s senior year for two kids (portraits, caps and gowns, yearbooks— all at grossly inflated prices—college application fees, College Board score-reporting fees, etc.), the depletion of funds in my health-care savings account (due to my need for therapy), and a host of other things. I feel like a poor steward of the money Adam left for me, but I have no perspective at all.

Then last night I had one awful dream after another, the last one, which woke me, being the worst of all. I dreamed that Adam and I were married but separated, and that I had gone to see him for some reason and he told me that he had cancer. In my dream I hugged him and said to him, “I love you so much,” and could tell that he didn’t feel the same. I woke up and looked at Adam’s side of the bed for some comfort and in my stupor wondered where he was. And then I remembered. It was terrible.

It has just been so hard these past couple of weeks, harder than it’s been in a really long time. Caroline introduced me to an artist she likes named Soko, and my new favorite song is hers: “How Are You??” Give it a listen.

Different Blues

Have any of the rest of you been feeling bad these past few days? I don’t know if it’s Thanksgiving or the car trouble I’ve been having, or changes in our traditional Christmas plans. Maybe its the health of my parents and parents-in-laws that’s making me sad, or maybe it’s just all of this at one time. I find myself worried that I’m not being a good steward of the money Adam left to me in his life insurance policy. But I’m too overwhelmed to get a handle on it. I downloaded and have been using Quicken, but separating out all those purchases at Target and Walmart is time-consuming and just reminds me of my doubt that I’m being a good financial steward. Then there’s home maintenance. The caulk inside has dried out over time and cracks are appearing. It’s not my foundation, thank goodness, but what to do about the cracks? They proliferate like proverbial rabbits.

I realize it’s mostly my mindset that is magnifying these problems. That’s why I want to get to the root of my worry. It doesn’t help that I badly sprained my ankle about a week ago and although I treated it well and it responded, it’s still a bit painful and keeps me from doing things like cleaning up the constant clutter, digging out the Christmas decorations, etc etc.

In short, I’m too frail for some reason to jettison this weight from my shoulders, and I don’t really understand why, or even have the concentration to figure it out.

This week I’ve forgotten a couple of social engagements. That was embarrassing. I just want to sit in my chair. This is not good.

Help?