Well, I survived the first Christmas without her. It was a very bittersweet day. We had fifteen people here, which for us is actually a little on the small side. This is very much a Christmas house. We’ve had the family Christmas gatherings here for sixteen years, ever since we built the place. We broke ground here on Christmas Eve 1996. While we were designing the place, she planned on having a Christmas tree in every room. We actually did that for a few years, with two full size artificial trees in the family room and parlor, and a full size real tree in the dining room. Ever since we came to our senses and downsized to one full size tree in the parlor the challenge has been deciding which ornaments would go out on it, since we had so many from the crazy years. I took a picture of the whole crew in front of the tree, partly in the realization that this was probably the last Christmas here.
But there were four dear people missing from the picture. Over the years, our gathering have included both family and dear friends we lost along the way. First my brother, then our dear friend K.C., my mother, and now Barbara. We drank a toast to the departed after the photos.
I’ve been reading posts lately by other widowers and widows talking about how they found the second Christmas even harder than the first. I didn’t get it then, but it’s starting to make sense now. This first year after the loss, we remember our loves one last time with family- after all, she was here just a few weeks ago, making plans for this Christmas, talking about taking off from the party early with the daughters and nieces to catch the Les Mis movie on opening day. She just left, and we say goodbye one more time.
So this year of firsts without her here is really a year of last calls. One more round of remembrance at each event, because in the newness of her death she is somehow still present.
But next year will come, and she’ll still be gone. And we already said goodbye.