These first holidays without C have been just as difficult as anticipated, more for me than the girls. They have been so happily distracted by travel, family, friends, and love that I don't think it has truly registered just how devastating these firsts have been. For this I am thankful. I have spent the time since C's birthday preparing myself and them for what the holidays would bring, I have a feeling once we are back home in familiar surroundings and less distraction, K and possibly H will find their feelings and we will have to process through it all then.
For me, it has been so difficult to see the happy pictures that flood Facebook, Mommy and Daddy and the kids happily posed in front of their trees in wonderfully coordinated outfits. That used to be us. Jumping out of bed in the middle of the night with the realization we forgot to move the elf. That used to be us. Wrapping all the presents and wondering how the girls would react in the moment of opening their gifts. That used to be us. Planning the day's activities to see that joy in the girls' eyes. That used to be us. I have carried on in trying to do what I can for the girls, trying not to mention C every five minutes like I want to, but encouraging his name to be spoken when it comes up organically. I have caught K looking at some of the pictures that line his Mother's wall, especially the ones with her and C, but she quickly moves on if I try to talk with her about them. Talking about past Christmases has been difficult, mostly because I can't speak of them without the words getting caught in my throat as I hold back my tears.
Perpetually feeling caught in the middle between wanting to celebrate and be happy and fully loved by those who care so much for us and wanting to run and hide and pretend the holidays don't exist. Watching everyone around us, moving forward wrapped up in their joy of the holidays, still causes me to feel as though I am still in the eye of the tornado. Watching everyone's lives keeping moving, sometimes joyfully, sometimes not, while mine still feels frozen in time..... still picking up pieces of my heart is so intensely painful. I had that fun, that love, that joy.... and knowing that there will be a time where I find that again, but longing for the memories of the last decade doesn't allow for it now. I miss it and I want it back, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to fix that.
And in the middle of all of this internal holiday madness and chaos, two of my favorite ladies became engaged to their loves with weddings planned for this upcoming year. And since both of them know my heart, and know that I am truly happy for them.... I can be brutally honest in admitting how much the news of their joy stung. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly hurt so much. Part of it is jealousy, I miss having my other half, that safe place to fall.... the shelter to huddle under when everything else was painful and confusing. C was my rock and I miss him more than ever. But that isn't quite the root of the sting. Part of it is wistfulness, I remember when C proposed, I remember planning our wedding, even those good memories have a harsh sting to my heart. I know that happiness he would have had for our families, especially for his sister. I can imagine conversations that we would have had..... from joking about making sure they included a safety pin in their wedding day prep list lest one of their dresses break like my wedding dress did moments before walking down the isle to looking forward to preparing the girls to be a part of those weddings and hoping that the weddings would happen on a day they are feeling particularly cooperative. But that isn't it..... those conversations only appear in my minds eye, even though I can still so clearly hear his voice.
The root of this sting is the fact that with these events, I will no longer be able to sit in the eye of the storm and watch the world go by.... whether I am ready or not, this year will bring new memories, new laughter, new joy that C will not be here for. He will not be sitting next to me on those days, he will not be helping me with the girls.... our lives will continue to move forward without him. We will join the storm of life with it's new ups and downs, creating a new life for ourselves. And I don't know if I am ready for that as I continue spending my quiet moments praying that I wake up from this nightmare, that I open my eyes and see his face laying on the pillow next to mine.
So I say goodbye to the most painful year of my life and hope that as we move into this next one, my heart can open to the possibility that joy and laughter can reside next to the grief and sadness. That the new memories will not replace the old, and the fear of that will fade as time marches forward.