The Second Christmas
I assumed the second Christmas without Simon would be easier, with less grieving and hazier memories. We would have “more strength” or a “deeper hope” or some other anecdotal wisdom for coping with loss. It wasn’t easier. There were moments that were really hard and really sad and really REAL. The reminders of his permanent absence were abundant: watching the kids’ Christmas programs without him, unwrapping presents without him, pulling out 11 years of collected ornaments without him, even watching Star Wars without him. And the kids had plenty of heartbreaking questions that felt like a swift punch to the gut. Why did Dad have to die? Why couldn’t the doctors make him better? Are we having our annual party where Dad makes ham and waffles for everyone, but he’s not here so how would that work? And from our youngest, When is Daddy coming home from heaven? The kids’ general behavior had been abnormally feisty and frustrating the first few weeks of this month. After some soul searching and an extra therapy session for all, it merely seemed to be Christmas break anticipation instead of trauma which was a welcome relief. After a few days of no school, being able to wear pajamas all day, and enjoying lighter schedules, the house is a happier, more peaceful place for all.
Even in all the emotional mess, there have been countless moments of joy. Jason has embraced his role as husband and father. Christmas is his favorite holiday and he has helped us all get into the spirit. He bought a giant tree that took up nearly half of our living room and filled the floor with gifts. He reduced his workload for the month to enjoy this season and be present for his new family. The kids were excited for new traditions. We had a daily countdown on our dining room chalkboard, drove around neighboring communities to find the most festive Christmas light displays, and filled our evenings watching holiday movies together. Christmas morning bordered on magical, as the kids squealed in delight over new electronics and toys in our warm, cozy home. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my family and it was all smiles and laughter. Delicious food and aged eggnog was enjoyed between games of laser tag and cornhole in the crisp Southern California winter sunshine.
And now it’s New Year’s Eve. The children enjoyed a small second Christmas with packages and treats from Texas family. We leisurely took down the decorations, removed the ornaments from the tree, and patched the living room back together as a family. After an hour of vacuuming, there are still pine needles stuck in just about everything. I’ll remove them by hand over the next few weeks and try to appreciate them as a sweet reminder of all we have been blessed with. Tonight, Jason and I will have a quiet dinner out before Jason leaves for India tomorrow on a two week short film project. 2015 was a year of huge change and we hope 2016 is a year of happiness, health, and being with the ones you love.