This will be the fifth Christmas since the death of Jeff, my life mate/soul mate. (I had to count, because it didn’t seem right. The fifth anniversary of his death isn’t until March. But yes, five Christmases — 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.)
We never did much for Christmas except by default. Since the rest of the world was busy with the holiday, we were left to our own devices, so usually we strung some lights around the living room (he loved Christmas lights), heaped plates with finger foods, and watched favorite movies. Since his death, every Christmas Eve I’ve been taking him for a walk around the neighborhood to show him the light displays. (I figure if he still lives in my heart as people tell me he does, then he will see what I will see.)
This Christmas Eve, I will be forgoing this new tradition. A friend invited me to a family Christmas party, and I accepted. An eve with ghosts or an eve with lights, laughter, and lots of Polish food? Not a hard decision to make.
Tomorrow, I will spend the day as we always did, though it will be only me watching our favorite movies, eating delicacies, and drinking a toast to the life we once shared. Despite the conceit that he lives in my heart, I know he is gone. He came, brought the light of knowledge to my life, and then he went back to wherever it was he came from. (Stardust, perhaps. I wish there was a way of sending his remains out to the stars, but his ashes will be forever earthbound).
It seems fitting that I spend one more Christmas in this house, my father’s house. This has been a house of transition for me, a place of refuge to live out my sorrow. But my father is gone now, as are my mother, the brothers closest to me in age, and Jeff, of course. During the next month or two, I will be embarking on a new life (one I have yet to envision), and for the most part, I will be leaving my ghosts behind, with only an occasional tear to remember them by.
But now is not a time to think of those who are gone. I’m going to go put on my sparkly clothes, and spend the evening with the living.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.
December 24, 2014 at 3:10 pm
I plan to do the same thing this Christmas, if my roommate doesn’t spend too much time playing Destiny on the PS4. We’re Jewish, so we’ll be doing a lot of things that Jews do during the high point of what we call a month-long headache. Namely Chinese food, movies, and just relaxing and having a nice day.
December 24, 2014 at 3:12 pm
Sounds wonderful to me!! Too bad there’s not a good Chinese take-out place around here. When we finally meet, that’s where we’ll go to lunch — a Chinese restaurant.
December 24, 2014 at 8:21 pm
That’s definitely an option. Got any ideas about when that meeting might be?
December 24, 2014 at 11:23 pm
Sometime between now and when your first kid graduates from college, I imagine.
December 25, 2014 at 10:24 am
Well, at least we have a timeline.
December 25, 2014 at 7:30 am
I think he will live forever in your heart! Merry Christmas Pat