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December 26. Survived Again.

January 2, 2014

Well, I made it to another December 26.

“Make new Christmas memories,” someone suggested.

“Christmas is something to just get through now,” I said.

“Well, maybe you should start to replace it with new things, with creative ways of making new memories.”

Our conversation had started on other things and it somehow turned to my mom. Christmas is hard for me since she died.

“Your whole demeanor has changed,” she observed. “You haven’t stopped shaking your legs.”

My mom loved Christmas. She decorated and shopped. She took us with her to friends houses for Christmas Eve parities. I joined her up in the choir at church at Christmas Eve mass and we sang the harmonies together during the service. At the parities, someone always had a guitar and we sang and ate and drank and laughed all night.

Mom wasn’t a sunshiney, perfect homemaker. Quite the contrary. I learned my harsh sarcastic wit from her. She was obnoxious and harsh and funny and amazing and wonderful. She was tacky and rude and generous and loving. She was unique. She was my mom. She was the social rock of my family.

She died 8 years ago. It was Christmas, 2004 when she was at my house complaining that food seemed to be getting stuck in her throat. It was a tumor in her esophagus. She was dead by the following July.

That first Christmas after she died, we (my siblings and I) tried to carry on. I went to Christmas Eve mass and went up to the choir to try to sing with my mother’s friends. I went to get a songbook from the stack and I looked down and my mom’s name was written on the book at the top of the stack. I broke down and cried. The choir members had left it there for me. They meant well. I didn’t make it through the service. I cried the whole time. It wasn’t the same. It was never going to be the same.

Since then, I don’t go to Christmas Eve mass anymore. I don’t go to the Christmas Eve parities with the family friends anymore. It’s all just a reminder of what I’ve lost. That she’s not here. Christmas is one big glaring sign all around me that says, “She’s gone.” I tried to explain that to my friend.

I think about trying to recreate Christmas memories. But the idea of trying to erase the past in and of itself is a reminder that something needs to be recreated……that something needs to be forgotten. Just trying to do that illuminates the loss. Trying to recreate a norm, makes the absence of the norm more glaring.

So, it remains something to get through.

My daughter called me on Christmas Eve. I was sitting on the tailgate of my car watching my brother, sister, niece and nephew set off fireworks in my Dad’s driveway. A family tradition. I listened to her talk about the gifts her son got. The things they had planned. What she gave her husband. What her husband gave her. The elaborate gifts my ex sent for all of them. I started to tear up with longing and envy. I miss having a family at Christmas. Not just the family of my childhood, but my own little family. I used to be the mom, the wife.The one who decorated the house and bought the gifts. I was the matriarch of Christmas. As I choked back tears, I could hear the longing in my daughter’s voice. She wanted to be where I was. She wanted to be at her grandparents house in the country, popping fireworks in the cold weather, instead of the usual balm of a Hawaii Christmas.

So, there I was, with family, carrying on some traditions, though much different than before. I tried to be grateful for what I have now, for what remains. I tried to be present. I made it through and December 25th came and went.

Maybe one day I will be in love again. Maybe I’ll have a new family. Maybe one day Christmas will be new and joyous again. I don’t know. For now, it’s still a time to get through. I woke up on December 26, called Pickle and said, “Well, we made it through another Christmas.”

That will have to do for now.

Now, on to New Year’s Eve. Shit!


From → Rantings

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