Saturday, December 25, 2010

white/black christmas

It's 10:50pm. I guess I can go ahead and safely say I survived my first Christmas without John. I never would have thought this in April... or May or even in November.
I have been reading a wonderful book lately which I recommend to all young widows: I'm Grieving As Fast As I Can. The book has many relevant chapters and a lot of useful information. It's a book especially made for YOUNG widows... which I find EXTREMELY important. There have been so many books I have read that generalize all the grief into one category. But grief comes in many shapes and sizes. And I believe young widows fall into their own special category. Because we are different. Our lives had just begun with our loved one. We still had many things to accomplish with them. Some of us were looking forward to our first wedding anniversary, to a wedding at all, to having babies, etc. Anyway, in this book they have a chapter called Holidays. It gives an insight to many things... how to make it more bearable, how to start new traditions, etc. One thing it mentions is something I have been aware of already... but never experienced to quite the level I did until this holiday. It's called Anticipation.
For a widow... or anyone experiencing a loss... the anticipation of an event.
And it's VERY true. I have freaked out more the days before an event than on the day of. And I think Christmas was one of my worst. Although most wouldn't be able to tell. It's haunted me. Yesterday was Christmas Eve. The worst day in a long time. It wasn't just the missing John part... but the heightened DEPRESSION. I felt horrible and sad... and just plain miserable. Everywhere around me people were jolly and in the spirit of Christmas. I tried to find someone that stood out. Someone that was miserable like me. Not happening. Apparently no one else in this town lost the love of their life this year too? Seriously? Can someone please just sit and cry with me..?
We went to Christmas Eve service. The one like I used to go to EVERY year with John and his dad. It was a candlelight service. Just like the one we used to go to. As the carols began everyone started to sing. I didn't. Then everyone stood. I didn't. I couldn't understand how everyone was standing... how they could sing out when John wasn't there. How can I be living in this pain alone? Why was everyone so happy? Why was I out and about anyway? How could I possibly think this was a good idea? But, I was out. I was with my family. I am alive. So, I forced myself to stand. I sang a couple carols... the last one being "Silent Night." I cried because this was the last carol we would sing at John's church. The same church where hundreds gathered for his memorial service. The same one where we would hold hands in the dark and hold our dripping candles while I sang in harmony to Silent Night. Well, while I sang the harmony.
When I left the service I found Karen (my sister in law) and I hugged her and cried and cried. I cried loud. I didn't care who heard. After all... I was in a church. If there is anywhere where this was accepted it was at a church. Yet, I couldn't help but feel maybe I was putting a kink in someone's holly jolly.
To be honest I was a huge grump yesterday. I was a typical scrooge. I was short tempered, moody, and lazy. I mainly slept in a bed most of the day. I tried to imagine what Christmas would be like without John. And I sat and thought about my past Christmases with John. I did all I could to not get upset about the Christmases I COULD have had with John. But, no joy. They come in waves. The what ifs. The might have beens. Oh my God, why?
Christmas came today. No one could stop it. Not even me and all my tears.
The holiday I used to anticipate with great joy... now anticipated with great fear!
But of course it wasn't as bad as yesterday. It went by smoother than i thought. It still sucked. It still brought pain... but I have to be grateful that I had my family to keep my thoughts away from the darkness. I still received gifts. I still gave away gifts. Something I told myself I wouldn't do.
And then a sort of miracle of a thing happened.
Something I had wanted to happen...
it snowed.

It hasn't snowed on Christmas in Raleigh, NC since 1947. The first white Christmas in over 60 years.
And it did.
For me.
Well, I believe.
And as much as it disheartens me to know that John wasn't here to experience it with me... I find comfort in that ... maybe he had something to do with it?

And then there's a part of me... that once again realizes... I'm not alone.
I made sure to contact all my friends today that have lost someone. That can make me realize that I am not alone. That we all survived this day together. That we are stronger than we think. Not because we want to be. Because we have to be. Because we choose to live and give it all we got. We have all made a decision that we don't want to give up on the life we were given. We all have chosen to honor our loved ones by living the life they would want us to live. Because their number one goal was for us to be happy.
My heart is saddened by the holiday. But I know how pleased John would be of me to have made it through. He loved my nieces. He loved my family. He would want me to enjoy my time with them. I know he would. But I think he would understand that my heart aches for him. It's hard to imagine never having another Christmas with him.
No more giving him useless gifts he would use once and never touch again or never at all.
No more Bulgari cologne to buy.
No more watching John staple the cord on the Christmas lights and ruining them all.
No more watching John hold his nephews up so they can reach the top of the tree to hang their ornaments.
I don't think I am ready to accept it.
I know I should.
It's called denial.
Yep, I guess I am still there.

"Like a million parachutes
The snow's coming down
I'll lock up the front door
And turn the lights down
In the glow of the street lights
I see them descend
Like a million parachutes
Small men on a mission"


Lacey said...

... just stumbled across your blog. I cried my way through Christmas too, and I wish I could have sat and cried along side of you. I know the pain and emptiness thats left when you loose the love of your life. I'm walking that road also and this 1st Christmas was a toughie. I tried to pretend that the Holidays didn't exist this year, but my grief got the best of me and I ended up barricaded in my nephews room crying my eyes out. Good for you for even having the energy to blog about it. I tried, but I couldn't write about Christmas at all.

About the acceptance and denial thing... Be gentle with yourself, I don't know if we'll ever be able to accept the unacceptable. Maybe we'll just get used to it.

Hira Animfefte (Xera Anymphefte) said...

Autumn sweetie,
My first Christmas without Nelson was hellacious. It happened around me. I was miserable among happy people. I was also only 2 months in. It was all so very raw.

This year it was better. It was still painful, but I was able to engage with it more.

But don't worry about that now. One day at a time, sweetie... (((HUGS))))
You have a great blog.

I really need to get an unwedded widows blogroll together.

grndesigner said...

Autumn, I just stumbled on your blog; this is the first page I've read. I've been with my husband for 5 years, and we (finally) married last June. On Christmas, he was in the hospital, in a coma, from a fluke head injury. In January, he died. Please know that my thoughts are with you; my understanding of your emotions is so very real and true. I'm in Chapel Hill (and was traveling to and from the hospital during that Christmas snow, and hoping it might herald a miracle for us)...if you want to meet with another young woman who lost the love of her life, I'm here. --Mel