Christmas Eve With the Living

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 Christmas lightsloved 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.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Jeff, my deceased life mate/soul mate used to love Christmas lights, so now every year as the holiday draws near, I take him for a walk to show him the lights. That’s not as crazy as it sounds. If, as people say, he still lives in my heart, he goes wherever I go.

The lights in this town are fantastic. Since there is no snow, few trees except palm trees, no real natural signs of Christmas, people seem to fill in the seasonal void with huge displays of lights. One house I saw a few days ago must have had ten thousand lights. I didn’t have my camera with me, so I don’t have a photo. And anyway, the poor little camera has a hard time figuring out how to make images of lights.

Still, I got a couple of pictures of small lighting displays within walking distance of where I am staying. I’m posting them here in the hopes Jeff  might see them. (It’s possible. The photos exist as energy, and so does he.)

Wishing you all a happy and light-filled Christmas Eve Eve.

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

Christmas lights

***

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.

Christmas and Grief: Creating New Traditions

This will be my second Christmas without my life mate/soul mate. I didn’t expect it to be a problem since we never celebrated Christmas as such. But, since it was a day with no mail, no open stores, no reason to do any of our daily activites, we’d fix plates of finger foods — meat, cheese, crackers, apples, carrots — and watch movies all day. It wasn’t until after he died that I realized our non-celebration had become a traditon.

I don’t like watching movies by myself. Without his enjoyment sparking mine, the movies seem flat and uninspired. Apparently whatever energy we generated between us brightened the story and made it personal, as if we were part of it or it was part of us. Now he is gone. That extra energy is gone. The tradition is gone. And I am all that’s left of our shared Christmases.

I never understood the point of traditions. Traditions seemed to be customs people blindly followed long after they’d forgotten the reason for the rituals and, since I have a very hard time dealing with pointlessness, I seldom followed traditions. (Hence my surprise at discovering that we had created a Christmas tradition after all.) Now, however, I do see the point. The point is continuity, connection, comfort. Life can be cold and cruel and desperately lonely. We need something to hold on to, and tradition gives us something to grasp when everything we hold dear has disappeared. Somehow, I will need to create new traditions, if only for myself.

My life mate/soul mate always loved Christmas lights, so last Christmas Eve, I took him for a walk. (He still lives in my heart, and that is the “him” I took walking.) I walked around the neighborhood viewing the lights, not just taking a cursory look as is my wont, but appreciating every scene, every effort the neighbors had put into their vignettes as he would have done. (He was an appreciator. I’d never known anyone who could appreciate every nuance the way he used to.) And tonight — Christmas Eve — I did it again. Walked around the neighborhood. Appreciated the artificial lights and the natural lights above. (Lots of stars tonight!) From such simple beginnings, new traditions are created.

Merry Christmas, compadre, wherever you are.