Friday, December 31, 2010

May there be peace.

It's the afternoon of New Year's Eve: a time when some of us make resolutions for the upcoming year, when some welcome the coming twelve months.  Aside from acknowledging that this has been the worst year of my life (our lives) I can't think of anything to say.  We will not be rejoicing at midnight. Although my husband is going to cook a nice dinner, the celebration is more  because there is a three day weekend coming up.  I plan on crawling into comfy clothes and curling up under an afghan and watching movies with him.  I may not want to be revisitng this year but I know it is going to be a part of learning to live in a world without my son, for the rest of my life.

Tonight I will be praying for strength, for wisdom, for peace and health for those here and no longer here, for lives new to this world, and lives just leaving this world.  My faith is stronger than it has ever been, but I will admit that there was a time this year when I was very angry at God.  I'm sure He is used to that. 

I am thankful for my beautiful family, amazing friends, my husband who supports and sustains me at a time when he is full of grief.  And I pray from the Serenity prayer, to be granted the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Between Christmas and the New Year

We are home again after spending Christmas away with our daughter and her family.  We left a week before Christmas and started our week by attending The Canadian Tenors Christmas concert at the Royal Theater in Victoria.  This had been a gift from my daughter on my 60th birthday.  Michael first "introduced" me to the Canadian Tenors.  I had heard of them but for some reason never listened to them.  He sent me a link to YouTube where they were singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah". This was one of his favourite songs and it was sung at his funeral.   As the concert began  tears came  but they were the tears that come with looking at a beautiful sunset, or a piece of art that touches your soul, or in the this case, voices that must make even angels weep just with the beauty of their sound.   It was an amazing night for us, we were both so moved.

The first four nights of our week away was spent on our own.  I had taken Michael's candle, the Mother and Son ornament I take with me everywhere and one of his t-shirts and my husband and I had time to talk to and about our son, time to walk by the water with him, time to cry together and we remembered Christmases with him.  All the big churches have an open door policy in the city and walking downtown one morning we walked into St. Andrew's Presbyterian church.  The sanctuary was empty and I was able to sit and pray for my son and feel close to God and just breathe. 

Each day we spent time with our daughter and her family.  Our granddaughter is such a joy and loves her NanaPapa (we are a unit of one).  As the days grew closer to Christmas day I actually felt I was getting stronger.  Christmas Eve was a very emotional day for all of us.  But we hung beautiful glass angels a cousin had given us, for Michael, we hung his stocking, and we held each other.  I took my granddaughter up to bed while the other three assembled a Christmas kitchen. 

Christmas morning we were up early and I remember that I felt enveloped by a sense of calm.  Michael's picture hangs on the wall above where we were sitting and I could feel his soul there with us.  That's not meant to sound like a spiritualist, but I was so very conscious of being at peace that I felt he must be there somehow with me...perhaps he was just in my heart. 

I am glad to be home and I am glad Christmas Eve and Christmas day and Boxing day are over.  We made it through and past another of our firsts.  We had so much love and support from friends and family.  Christmas day we received texts, phone calls and emails telling us that Michael was in the thoughts and prayers of friends.  How sweet to hear his name spoken by someone.  What a gift to us. 

I am going to light his candle and brew strong tea and sit by the fire with him for awhile, now.

Monday, December 20, 2010

December 20th

Sitting at dinner tonight I was thinking of the "one day at a time" thing I've read and heard over the years.  It's that way with us too I guess, but more like "one hour at a time" and "one minute at a time".  We are working our way through the Christmas one second at a time, always on guard for emotional pitfalls in front of us.  Christmas doesn't come down to the one day.  We are in the midst of our first Christmas without Michael.  I don't believe the 25th will be much more difficult than each day of this season is.  Christmas is about more than the one day, it is about the meaning of the season and we are in that season now.

Walking home this evening my husband suddenly said, "I miss Michael's laugh.  I will never forget the sound of that laugh."  I'm so grateful we each have things we will always remember.  Right now, I'm not sure I can hear that laugh in my heart...but I can hear his voice, talking to me, and I can see his smile.  I work at blocking the other memories. 

So, we continue to try to keep ourselves safe from letting ourselves go too far into  sadness and loneliness.  There are other people to consider right now.  I don't know that I could walk this road alone.  I am so thankful that I will never have to. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

42 plus 1

Today is December 17th, a day of no particular note, and I only mention it because it's been awhile since I wrote last.  Boy, this is a tough month.  I expected it to be, but wasn't sure what form the difficulties would take.  As I sit writing this, Bravo is airing Music Hall and Brian Adams is singing.  I'm going to have to switch the station.  Music still remains one of the biggest triggers for sadness.  Brian Adams music brings back memories of Michael as a boy.  I can't remember how old he would have been, perhaps 12 or so, but he loved  Adams music. 

Two weeks ago I didn't leave the house during the week.  I indulged myself and allowed a mental health day,  staying in my pajamas most of the day, keeping the drapes closed, the fireplace lit, TCM on all day and Michael's candle burning.  It all seems so unfair again.  I thought I'd made it through that part.  Looking up at his picture above the mantle, a picture taken on his wedding day six short years ago, I think "This can't possibly be real.  He will be home any day."  And I've said more than a few times the last few weeks, "What happened?  Why OUR boy?"  It is just so wrong. 

I'm not aware of feeling separate from other people's Christmas enthusiasm, and I HAVE attended services and the carol festival, but there is no joy.  There's just...well,  nothing really.  For our granddaughter's sake we decorated and baked.  We chopped down a small tree and set it up in the corner. Tonight is our little Christmas with her.  There can be no tears tonight.  I have to give myself a talking to over the next two hours. 

Last night we attended a service at our church, a service held each year to allow us to remember those we have lost.  It was a beautiful service, but when it came time to hang a decoration on the memory tree I felt like I might pass out.  I haven't felt like that since Michael's funeral.  Through my mind I could see the words "if you run now he'll come home"...just like you see pictures of planes pulling banners...that type written banner ran through my thoughts.  There were four ornaments hung for Michael last night, so I knew it was true.  He is no longer here with us in the way I want him to be.

Today I went into the room Michael had here in his last months.  I had been keeping the closet for gifts and after I moved them all into the car I stood for awhile running my hands over his shirt sleeves.  Shirts, still clean and ironed, ties neatly hung, dress pants separated from jeans, and on the floor, the slippers.  I thought for a second of getting into the closet and closing the door, just to be alone with my boy, but I knew I would start to cry and I need to make it through the day. 

My cousin gave me beautiful glass angels for every member of the family, to hang on our trees.  They are beautiful, but I don't want to have to HAVE an agnel hanging an angel on the tree for my boy.  I want him back.  I don't think I will ever EVER accept the loss of my son.  And I know it's because of the manner of his death.  I don't believe it will ever get easier.  I wonder if I've said that before.  Probably.  Frustration?  Anger?  Maybe a little of each.  Sadness, without a doubt.  But regret, REGRET, regret. 

I love my son today as much as I did the day he was born.  We are so blessed as parents to have been given the capacity to love so completely.  Parental love is so all-encompassing. 

So here we are, one day closer to Christmas day.  I just realized that last night marked 42 weeks since Michael's death.  Only 10 weeks left until it has been a year.  Where has the time gone.  How have we made it this far?  Some days it is hard to be strong. 

I am tired now.  We survived the gift giving with my granddaughter tonight.  She is such a beautiful, joy-filled child.  She is our gift.  Thank you Michael for your beautiful daughter.  Please stay close to us. We miss you very much.  Please remember that each and everything we do now, it done with your daughter's happiness and well-being in mind.  I know you will understand.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Early December days

It has been awhile since I wrote.  This is a difficult time but overall I really think I am doing okay.  I wrote in an earlier post that my husband's psychologist had told us to keep ourselves out of harms way and that is what I've been doing.  For a week, that meant just staying very close to home and avoiding the malls, with their music and decorations.  The music is the hardest to deal with. 

Christmas in our family has always been such a wonderful time.  When the children were little it was a time of school and Sunday school concerts, time home from school spent baking and decorating, and just general excitement.  I made my first gingerbread house the year Michael was born and it became one of our holiday traditions.  I haven't made one in a number of years but am going to start one today to decorate with his little girl.  The last couple of weeks I have been going through old photographs of winters in the snow and Christmas over the years.  Bittersweet memories.  I am so lucky to have had those wonderful years.  But I would give anything to have them back again.  There seemed to have been such an innocence then; maybe I just have nostalgic memories but life was different then. 

Anyway, back to the music.  I have been working at being able to listen to music without crying and I'm getting better.  Tonight we have a Christmas Service of Remembrance put on by the funeral home that helped us with Michael's service.  I know it will be an emotional evening for us but I know it will be a healing step forward.  We have been playing Christmas carols and songs at home where it is safe to cry

What I wanted to write when I started this is this.  Yesterday I decided I would make myself go out and go up for coffee because I haven't been doing it much.  The less I go out, the more I want to stay in.  It was cold and windy so I grabbed a down vest I haven't worn in awhile and put my hand into my pockets to find a card my husband had given me one day.  It was just a little business card the woman who cuts his hair had given him.  This is what it said:

Hello.  This is God.
I will be handling all of your problems and concerns today.
That's my job.
Your job is to give them to me, and then to trust me
Have a great day!

Yesterday we had our granddaughter for a visit and the day was so reminiscent of days with her Daddy and Aunty when they were her age.  We walked out into the field at the Christmas tree farm and she picked out a tree for Papa to chop down for us; we went for hot chocolate; we went into the store so she could buy her Mama a Christmas present and like a little crow attracted to sparkly things, she carefully chose things with a high glitter value.

We had the promised great day.