Christmas Mistakes

I know what you’re saying. “Where has *she* been? What is so great about *her* Christmas that she doesn’t have to write any complaints on her blog?” Perhaps you’re saying, “My holiday has been awful, but she’s been silent so she must be ignoring all the bad stuff, or maybe she found a way around it.” Of course the truth is somehwere in between.

*You* know. Put it on, show everybody, so you look great and in control and happy so people will stay off your back and not ask how you’re coping or give you those sad looks. You know how to deflect, how to cope.

Ok so it’s now time for true confessions since we’ve dispensed with all that fake stuff. Yeah, I did well until today. Honestly, until just a couple of hours ago. And then I had. had. it.

The first great event was when I picked up my Christmas tree from my kids’ former high school—the lacrosse team was selling trees for a fundraiser. A really nice parent who was helping me said that I looked familiar to him, and I explained that our daughtrers had been friends in elementary school. He then said something like oh, your… and I cut him off with a sharp-bladed look. “Do. Not. Go. There.” And he didn’t, bless him. The experience settled inside me, but I thanked his spirit for not pushing it. He saw my face and respected it. Thank you, Jon.

Mostly after that I just blew it off. Whatever. It’s a spiritual and family holiday and both those things mean a lot to me, but circumstances are what they are and we are going to celebrate. I did a poor job of celebrating last year and there were things to make up for. It was happening at my house this year, like I wanted (thanks to my family for bowing to my desires and needs) and it was all going to go swimmingly. On script.

Tee. Hee.

So my sister and I got our wires crossed and neither of us bought the Christmas roast. After the shock had really settled in, I embraced the knowledge that screw-ups were the basis of memories, and that this would be a Christmas meal that would never be forgotten. Understatement! So we’d heard on a morning news show that Chinese was the way to go if you weren’t a Christian on Christmas, so we placed a whopping order at our favorite place. Twenty-five minutes and we were good to go. My lovely daughter and patient mother went to pick up our order. Ninety minutes and several insults later (Do they give discounts to Jews here? Why aren’t you home with your Christmas tree? I am not kidding.), we finally had our Christmas dinner.

So today we were going to have the real thing with the real roast. Everything was going according to plan. The roast looked lovely. I was trying to put on some Christmas music to accompany the feast, and was having problems getting it going. Finally, tunes. By then everyone else had filled their plates so I ran in to the kitchen to fill mine, only to approach the table and find the blessing ensuing.

I have to say that I was P.O.—ed. Mad as a hatter. it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, or the equilibrium I’d been nursing all season or something. I was Angry. You started the blessing without me? Because I was trying to get music going? Really? Really angry. Had to slam down my full plate and go for a brisk and insulting walk around a very large block. Mad. Angry. Energy to burn. Disresepct me in my house? Because your kid needed to get on with it and go to bed? I was devoid of perspective. I was incensed. I was summarily excused from the circle of people who mattered. That’s how it felt.

Do you feel excluded from the circle of people who matter? Does your widowhood make you feel out cast from time to time? Even though you know it’s silly to think this way, but you take circumstances personally and relate them to your widowhood? Well I wallowed in all of that this evening.

When I returned to my cold meal, I tried to be humble and apologize. My in-laws understood and we all just broke down and had to remove ourselves to the living room to work out our grief. My own mother just thought I’d had too much wine and she wasn’t very sympathetic. My sister said it was ok, and I think she meant it, but I have insulted my brother-in-law and I’m sorry about it. I had had it, my nerves were tensile wire, and it was only a matter of *what* was going to set me off.

And now, not only am I grief-stricken but I have to be humble and apologize to my family. I tried to do it in person and most of them were receptive, but some were not so.

Thanks for listening, as always. I hope you dealt with your holiday better than I did. If you didn’t, I hope it’s comforting to know you weren’t the only one screwing up.

Love to you all.

Grief Days and Dreams

Do you guys dream about the person you lost? I’ve had only a couple of dreams about Adam, one of which was last night. The dreams are always upsetting–either the dream itself or my realization that it was just a dream. That’s what happened to me last night. I dreamed that Adam was, in fact, not dead but alive and hiding, hiding because of the devastation left him by his illness. He was suffering both mentally and physically. (Doug, you were the one hiding him! How appropriate.) I was elated to find him; I cared not one bit how broken he was. He had a hoarde of family pictures with him. It broke my heart and the memory is breaking my heart right now.

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had a grief day but I think this is going to be one. It doesn’t help that I woke with a cold, and that I stayed up too late last night.

I guess I’m writing this just to see what kinds of dreams you have about your loved ones, if you dream of them at all, and if you still have grief days even though it may have been years since your loss.

Thanks for being there for me.

The Small Things are Really Big

O Joy. It’s that time of year again. “The Holidays.” First of all, a holiday from what? Oh, you mean “holy days.” Well that makes more sense.

All of us have steeled ourselves for the upcoming festivities—parties, concerts, The Nutcracker, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, gifts. And all of us will do it without somebody special by our side. But we can take it because we’ve been psyching ourselves up for it all year long.

It’s the little moments that will get us. I had one today.

My children and I went to a movie. This was probably our first family movie since we saw Monsters Inc. in the dark ages of its nativity. Or was it Ice Age? Anyway, it was a while ago. And I know that today Adam should have been with us as he was then. This movie was a little more grown up, however: The Theory of Everything, the new movie based on the book by Stephen Hawking’s wife. It was perfect for us. A sort of period piece and love story for me and Caro, the evolution of a theory, physics, for Will (I kind of liked that part, too). And Adam should have been there. The whole time we were watching I felt this deep abiding lonesomeness. It snuck up on me. Hawkings’ wife’s care and despair for her husband hit a little too close to home, too.

After the movie Will raided his dad’s bookshelf. Adam should have been here for that too, to see his son so interested in his own interests. I am bereft.

I, we, will be fine during these holy days, easily coping with and enjoying the big events and remembering our departed loved ones in a formal, distant way that keeps emotion at bay. The small, joyful, intimate moments are those that will bring pain because our loved ones aren’t with us, sharing in our joy.

Honestly, I just indulged in the pain that came today. It wasn’t as deep and dramatic as it would have been two years ago, and that is a relief. I felt myself descending into that kind of pain, but after a little bit it stopped progressing. I am thankful, on this Thanksgiving weekend, that the pain stopped at bittersweet.