Good-bye 2016

It’s a new year and that means a fresh start.  In theory.  It’s not like something magic happens and all the baggage and stuff from the previous year(s) goes away.  It is a crazy notion that some people really believe – “I’m glad to see the end of that year!” – they say, like the slate’s been wiped clean.

So new year’s comes and goes and finally we are through the madness of Christmas.  I don’t remember Christmas 2015 – but made an effort to try and be more “Christmas-y” for 2016.  It was better but still hard. I envy those families that have no sorrow or stress at Christmas – and I know a few of them.  Perhaps they never will experience loss to the extent that others do, that I did.  Perhaps they will, who knows and what does it matter really.  What is hardest is trying to maintain the false bravado associated with the day, for that matter, with the whole season.

So I was asked what my resolutions would be for the new year.  I actually do think that it is a good thing to engage in some retrospection.  It’s important to look at habits, opinions, tendencies and figure out if they are beneficial or not.  So I did make one resolution, after much thought, for this year – to put more effort into my interactions with others.  I find it so easy to retreat, and I am comfortable with being on my own, but I don’t think it’s always healthy.

I will never be that outgoing person that everyone wants to hang out with, but not too many people are.  Most of us are the periphery that orbit around the star to grab bit of the glitter that they spin.  It can be fun, but it takes some effort.  I lost my star in 2015 when Kevin died, and at the same I lost all interest in people other than my immediate family.  I had limited capacity.  So maybe what my resolution really is, is to exert more effort in my relationships, to work on building my capacity and to start caring again.

So that’s it then

That’s another big event down for yet one more year.  Not as many tears but still a few unexpected moments.  Like tonight, when we dropped off my oldest son at his in-laws place, when my daughter-in-law’s dad said, as I was hugging the grandkids, “So sad that Kevin isn’t here to see them.”  My grandkids, my son’s three boys, now five, three, and a year and a bit – growing like bad weeds.  Full of fun and laughter and energy.  Lovely children, who, along with my daughter’s son, are sweet little imaginative boys that granddad could have told tall tales to and spun yarns about when he was a boy.

My Kevin.  He’s been in my mind and heart all through this Christmas.  Images of him have popped into my consciousness, of times long ago when the kids were little; from when we first met; our last Christmas. I am afraid that I let him down this year and that’s why he’s been so active in my mind.  I didn’t get many Christmas cards out.  You see, I have one final sketch that he did that I was planning on using.  But it felt like if I used it then that was it – finality.  There would be emptiness after that.  So I didn’t – I sent out a few pre-printed cards and then left it at that?

Perhaps next year I will be braver or stronger or more accepting.  But not this year, maybe next Christmas…

Shine On

i am heading into the hard part of the year.  January to March – hard for a multitude of reasons.  Deaths, lots of them, close and personal: my mother (January), father (February), father-in-law (February), mother-in-law (March), husband (March) topped off with what would have been my anniversary (March) – significant events that loom ahead of me.   I can’t remember last year’s Christmas it was overshadowed by the impending sadness. All I could think of was what I had lost. Loss, over and over again.  My mind, my thoughts consumed by the pain of death.

Now we head into Christmas again, marking, for me, the onset of a dark period.  That’s how I think of it – those life events that will be with me for always – sadness, darkness, heaviness.  I know it’s coming, can’t escape it and actually don’t want to. It’s part of my family history now, of who I am.  I know I can move through it, my family beside me, where I need to be with the people that matter the most.  I know it will be hard; I am keenly aware of the uncertainty of being, we all are in this family.

Twenty months after Kevin’s death and I think I am resignedly moving on in this loss journey from the “what ifs” to the “what is”, but that I will always carry the “what was” in my heart and in my mind.  Otherwise, what was the purpose of being if not to be remembered, of love, if not to be mourned.  Kevin’s star will always shine bright in my universe.

The Price

I’ve had a week of aches and pains like no other.  I think that this is simply the physical toll of getting through Christmas.  It’s okay to go like there’s no tomorrow as long as you know there is a tomorrow, and when you finally let it in that there is a price to pay.  That’s where I am at now.  Paying the price.

The human body can take a remarkable amount of abuse.  I think about how, in some cases, toxins like chemotherapy medications can actually cure by killing off cells.  That is a planned assault on the body – eyes wide open, prepare for the battle.  In my case though, my abuse of my body is through sheer neglect.  During Christmas and the weeks leading up to it, I subjected my body to all sorts of unpleasantness – sleep deprivation, physical inactivity, torturous thoughts and high stress levels.  If I felt lousy I took a pill, if I couldn’t sleep, I took a pill.  At some point something had to give, and this week it did.

The walls finally came tumbling down earlier this week after I started to organize the Christmas ornaments.  Every year for 10 years Kevin had bought me a glass ornament for our Christmas tree.  Hand-painted, blown glass and usually inscribed with the year.  Obviously this year I didn’t get one, nor did I get one last year, he was just too sick.  For some reason, the fact that two years were missing sent me over the edge.  Cried so hard I gave myself a headache, sank so low I couldn’t pull myself back up.

I realized then that I’d stopped writing as well.  Over the past few weeks I haven’t cared about writing anything here, my writing has been spotty at best.  I’ve been too tired and felt like it’s all been said, and that I have an unhealthy compulsion to dwell on the past.  Then I realized, I need to write for my sanity and for my health.  I’m not dwelling on the past, I’m sorting through the present and how we got here.  I need to do this for me, on my own terms – if people don’t want to read it, then they don’t have to, no one is making them.

Bottom line, I loved my husband so very, very much, as did my children, as did his sister, the rest of our family and his good friends.  It was a tremendous loss and it will take a long time to fully come to terms with it. There’s no shame in mourning as long as you still keep living.

That’s That

The Primitives

The Travellers

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for everyone.  There have been moments, which we all expected.  For me the hardest day, bar none, was this morning.  I woke up realizing that Kevin never lived or breathed, he did not and will not exist for even one day in 2016.  Thinking about 2015, I could, in my mind, place him in my world, within the family, part of it; laughing, singing, drawing and, towards the end, just radiating his love outwards.  Now, with the changing of the year, he was part of a time and place that is truly gone, past.

I read the post my daughter put on her Facebook page and cried like most of her friends likely did.  I asked her if I could share it here – and she agreed.  She wrote:

“Reflecting on 2015 has been bittersweet. In February I had my crazy, busy, lovable, strong willed child. In March we lost our dad, my baby lost his granddad, my mom lost her soul mate, many, many people lost a dear friend and our world forever changed. I got to witness and be a part of the beautiful weddings of lifelong friends, but watching their dads walk them down the aisle, and watching the coveted father-daughter dances was a staunch reminder of what I’ll never have.

I battled postpartum, and cried so many tears I think I could have filled a pool. 2015 was literally the most confusing year of my entire life, I’m ready to say goodbye to it, but I also want to hang onto it. In 2015 I got to hug and kiss my father, smell his skin, hear his voice, and look into his eyes. Also 2015 I created life, and watched friends take the plunge into a new chapter.

In 2015 I rekindled old friendships, made new friends and rediscovered love. I found strength I didn’t know I had and the courage to say I’m not okay. I’ve felt the love and kindness of others lift me up when I couldn’t myself. Although I say goodbye to 2015 with a heavy heart, I welcome 2016 with light, love, and peace (and hopefully a baby that sleeps through the night!).

I wish everyone a very happy 2016! And thank you to the most amazing friends and family a girl could ask for!”

I was fortunate to have all my children home for Christmas.  Along with the children, family and friends stopped by, and life went on – as it should.  Things will never be the same without Kevin, but things still will be – and it’s important to include laughter, joy and hope among the things we share.  Last Christmas was special but at the time we didn’t know how special it was – we still hoped for a miracle.  This Christmas was special too, in a much different way – we went into it painfully aware of how amazing life is and how precious it is to love someone – even for a while.