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.

A House of Ghosts

An online friend, someone who only knows me through my blog posts, emails, and projects we have worked on together, made an astute remark.

She said, in response to my blog about the double rainbow, “I do think you are more perceptible to the outside world and that life is moving forward when you get out of the house. You won’t find any possibilities in the house — you have to be able to get out when you can.” I found that comment interesting because I hadn’t noticed the deadness of this the house until the last few days. It’s always been a place of dying and grief, paranoia and imprisonment. I first visited this house to help with my dying mother. I came to stay after the death of my life mate/soul mate to help my elderly father and to get through my shockingly painful grief. For the first three years I was here, my father would set the burglar alarm around 7:00pm and he didn’t give me the alarm code, so I was basically a prisoner of his paranoia, and now my brother is making me a prisoner of his paranoia and psychoses.

ThiStarss deadness was especially apparent to me this morning. I went to pick up a rental vehicle to take my brother back to Colorado (a foolish waste of money, since he insists he doesn’t have time to get ready) and while I was sitting in that sparse office, I could feel my spirits rise. Since my brother refuses to go tomorrow, that means I have the vehicle for my own use, and I could go . . . wherever. During the long ride back here, I felt that optimism, and even after a confrontation with my brother, who claimed the SUV was too small, he couldn’t be ready, and various other ranting objections, I kept that feeling of optimism. But now that I’ve been back in the house a couple of hours, I feel the cement hardening around my feet and my heart, and I can barely muster the energy to . . . well, to do anything.

I never had much belief in ghosts, but this place does seem haunted, if only by my own unhappiness.

I don’t really have anywhere I want to go, but I think I’ll head out on the highway for a couple of hours, and see what I can see — maybe some stars. It’s supposed to be a good night for stargazing.

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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.