Reasons to celebrate

Ghost of Christmas Present by Kara Shallenberg CC by sa

Christmas. I want to like it again.  I went in the shop yesterday and the music and food and decorations made me run out as quickly as I could before I cried. I went home and drank wine again, sat on the sofa and played a phone game until 12 0am this morning.

I AM looking forward to seeing my friends in NSW, to getting away from memories and making new ones. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas since Paul died is bringing something different in terms of mindset.


The first round of holidays you can almost fool yourself that it’s temporary. The second one, you’re a bit sadder – you get that this is the new reality. The third one? You wonder if you’re ever going to have a routine again that you can count on. New traditions that you can anticipate.

Maybe it’s part of being older too. That change is so relentless. That even the familiar is no longer familiar because circumstances change.

The hardest time of year for me is here. Thanksgiving with no Paul to prepare a dinner with and his family, having cut me out of their lives – except for one whom I perhaps wrongly did, is also gone for me. In three years I lost a husband and a family. Then there’s Christmas. For two years dear friends have let me be part of their family. This year another set of friends has generously arranged for me to visit them interstate. And then there’s New Year’s eve. Another year without Paul in it is due to start. 2018.

That years can keep flowing by without him still surprises me. The big wide river comes to mind. His boat went into shore more than two years ago and I had to paddle on without him, back in a single canoe. He’s at once far away and always with me.

I’d like to think I’m ready to date, but I still long for him. The cord that reached between our hearts is still bleeding, still only shaped to connect to his heart. Others have stirred my liking temporarily, but it’s Paul that is the key to my lock still.

I still haven’t worked up the courage to visit the place we sprinkled his ashes. I tell myself that’s not an appropriate place. That he wasn’t alive there. That he’d left his body behind at the hospice. Do I need to even go there?

I will someday. It’s on the way to Kangaroo Island and I’ll go there again. Never to that lovely little house at the top of the dunes we shared on our anniversary, where we laid out under the stars and planned a future that was torn apart less than 4 months later.

I love you Paul. I wish I could love Christmas again. You always got a kick out of my over the top decorations and love of it. I know you want it for me and perhaps, in a few years, I will discover it again. Or find a new way to “be” at Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and that wonderful and sad day in mid-February when we married.

Until then, the next few months are all about trying to define how to re-create these holidays in my new context. Not being the onlooker at the feast, but a full participant in celebrating life, love, friendship and the future. Because, as you and I discussed Paul, a healthy life with friends is worth finding reasons to celebrate.

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