I’ve tried several times to write about the first holiday season without my mother. But, for some reason, the words don’t come out when I sit down to type. It’s not that I’m overcome with grief or anything, it’s just that it’s all so weird to have to find a new “rhythm” if you will.
It’s one thing to speculate what the first holidays after someone’s death will be like, but, it’s another thing to live them. Television and other media would have you believe that something dramatic and inspiring occurs at the dinner table to honor your loved one and happy tears are shed as you fade into commercial break.
Truthfully? The actual day of Thanksgiving was pretty uneventful both physically and emotionally.
We usually go to my husband’s family gather for Thanksgiving, and, this year my father went with us. I think I was so hung up on how that was going to go over, that I didn’t have time to think about the situation.
Things went fine, my dad was a little quiet, but, he said he had fun. Then again, it’s hard to get a word in edgewise at that gathering, so, I guess “quiet” is just what most people do there. And, since holding it in is just what we do (yeah, I know) there wasn’t a heart to heart “how are you holding up?” kind of thing. C’mon he’s a Marine and I’m just repressed…
Anyway, it wasn’t until the next day that I had any sort of a hard time with it. I’m not even sure that it was entirely about my mother, but, whatever it was, it kind of came out of the blue. It must have hit my father, too, because in a telephone conversation, he brought up the fact that he doesn’t have much family left (he came from kind of a big family) in reference to having friends perform tasks during the funeral that he feels family “normally” does.
We talked a little bit about expanding one’s definition of “family” since the people he works with are really part of the family even though Mr. Marine doesn’t like depending on other people. I know I couldn’t have done it without them when he had his surgery and they were all right there for us when my mother died. He seemed to take that in and sounded better.
Christmas may be another story for us, I’m not sure. Thanksgiving may have been easier because we got away from our usual setting and it was new and different, but, Christmas will be the same routine we have always done, so, it will be more apparent that my mother isn’t there.
I’m still trying to thing of a new twist we can add to Christmas just to make it a little bit different. It’s not that I’m trying to ignore the fact that she’s gone, I’d just like to have something small that signifies a new tradition.
However, I think part of me wants to try to make my father not sad during the holidays even though that’s not logical. Part of me wants to try to make me not sad, too. I guess we’ll just take it as it comes, and, most likely we’ll do all the same stuff we’ve always done.
In a way, though, I think Christmas will be OK because she had been sick for a couple of years, and, we had some time to gradually get used to her not being around as she was able to do less and less each year. As a matter of fact, Christmas Day 2005 was the last time she ever came to my house, and, I knew it would be when she walked out the door. I think the whole scenario would be entirely different if her death had been unexpected.
Also, new on the agenda is the fact that I guess I’m going to have to take over her Christmas card list. I always had to give her 10-12 copies of the kids’ Christmas pictures for her cards, but, I’m not sure who all she sent them to. I know they are mostly people from her past who are still hoping to get pictures of my children and that my father isn’t likely to do it.
Speaking of Chirstmas cards, I suppose we’ll get at least one or two from people who don’t know she died. I wonder what that’s like for my father to still have to tell people about her death?
Know what else is interesting? More Internet friends than 3 dimentional friends have checked on and supported me in the past few days. I don’t quite know what to make of that just yet, but, I am learning from it, and, I hope I can be in a position to help someone else going through this someday.