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.