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Lights and dark places

December 5, 2012

I logged in today and realized it’s been two months since I’ve posted. I’m still not sure how that happened, but I suspect it has much to do with work craziness and unpacking craziness (No, we’re not unpacked yet. Please don’t tell me if that is notably abnormal, because I finally hung pictures up on the living room walls and now I just want to pretend that I’m done) and personal family life craziness.

But I miss this space – the writing, but also the reading and commenting. Re-entering feels a bit like the person who shows up at the workplace potluck who didn’t make anything to share. I hope this is an apt analogy in that there’s always plenty of food anyway. I missed you. I promise that next time I’ll bring cinnamon rolls.

I often feel like everything I have left to say is a variation of something I’ve already said. My grief seems to be of the slow-moving and repetitive variety. Or maybe I am slow-moving and repetitive. But I seem to need to keep writing it out, setting it down, trying to see where it all fits together and who I am becoming and looking for answers that probably don’t exist.

Life is mostly good. The new place is good. The dishwasher is lovely. N is battling depression and a resurgence of grief and in many ways really missing the pot, but he hasn’t had any since that day in August, and he’s determined to keep it out of our lives, even though (hello, irony) it is being legalized in our state. We’ve had more time together over the past couple months, and Teddy’s name comes up more often, and that’s a relief to me. I need to talk about him sometimes. I need N to talk about him sometimes.

Last weekend we put up our Christmas tree, and Dot helped me hang the ornaments up. She’s old enough to do that now, which is just amazing and wonderful. I understand nostalgia over the baby days, but I guess that, having missed out on seeing my first child grow into the amazing person he should have been, I am more happy than sad when I realized that my daughter is a little girl now, and that she has opinions on where the felt Wizard of Oz ornaments my Grandma made for me should go. I am shopping and planning on baking and playing holiday music and I have lights up on our porch (which is perfect for Christmas lights) and have planted an amaryllis bulb and am wondering what flavor of ice cream we will make this year and whether it would really mystify my relatives if I wrote our holiday newsletter from the haughty perspective of my old cat. And it’s all lovely, but sometimes it feels like I’m building a protective shell – a shell of evergreen, colored lights, butter and sugar, comfortingly cheesy movies, memories, stories and bustle – around missing Teddy.

It’s not so simple as that. He’s woven into everything, too. But this is the fifth holiday season since his death and I still need to distract myself almost constantly because just sitting with how much I miss him and with the overwhelming fact of his death brings me to a standstill. It still makes me gasp and flail and cry and wonder how it could have happened, that this beautiful little baby never got to smile at Christmas lights. I need to sit with that sometimes, but I can’t do it while I’m actively being the mommy and supporting N and attempting to be a model employee.

I wish I were strong enough to remember fully and fearlessly and to make that remembering beautiful and even joyful. Sometimes I think that that’s the real secret agenda to the frenetic Christmas-elf personality that surfaces during this time of year, that somehow all of the lights and music and preparation is a way to tie loss to hope and joy in a way that my heart will accept.  My mostly unacknowledged Christmas quest. And it is probably impossible.

But I keep trying, hoping that this is valiant instead of hollow.

 

 

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6 comments

  1. It’s good to hear your voice. I’m struggling right now and your words helped ease some of the ache.


  2. I have been thinking about you and was so glad to see your post today. December is a tricky time for all of us. I love the idea of finding a way to tie loss to hope and joy. I’m a long way from there, but even seeing it as a goal is somewhere to start. Thanks for posting.


  3. So honored to read this post. Thank you so much for sharing this little corner of your world. Always remembering with you-love and light


  4. “But I seem to need to keep writing it out, setting it down, trying to see where it all fits together and who I am becoming and looking for answers that probably don’t exist.” Yes, yes, and yes. I like to think of some of that repetition as forming patterns that maybe make sense or just give a different shape to things.
    It is hard to make the remembering beautiful and joyful. I think I get it in flashes, perhaps, maybe. Instead of your frenzy of activity, I am slow. Seeking moments of quiet, sitting. I have begun to bring some of the trappings—decorations, tree, cookies—back into my life, but mostly this time of year, I find myself just wanting quiet, stillness, and a bit of light.
    Wishing you warmth and light, and glad to see you back here.


  5. I have become very busy building a protective Christmas shell…This is my first Christmas without my daughter. She died in January, just a few weeks after a very happy Christmas, and I have been dreading this Christmas since the day she died. But, instead of falling apart as I thought I would, I have been focusing on my almost 4-year-old and the magic that Christmas is for her and I find myself enjoying it, but also knowing it is, in your perfect words, a protective shell. As it is for you, it is hard for me to sit with grief, parent my living child well, as she deserves, manage work and life, all at the same time. I am mystified at how to incorporate grief, my little second daughter’s short life, and so many people are just hoping and hoping that I won’t bring her up while we are all trying to have ‘happy holidays.’ I wish I were strong enough, too; strong enough to not care about that.


  6. I’ve missed you. And I think it’s valiant. Because a part of me can’t help but think that this can all tie together somehow. Loss, hope and joy. I just can’t quite make them fit. Not yet.

    If you want company in the slow-moving and repetitive corner, look no further. I’m your gal for those two characteristics.

    So glad that the new place is good and I’m sorry that N is going through such a tough time. He’s being really great about the pot, it’s hard to give up a comfort, it really is.

    I love that Dot has her own opinions about Christmas tree ornament placement and so on. Jess is only just really starting to express herself now and it is such a joy to me. Like a box has been unlocked and all those things she must have been thinking away on for some time are finally tumbling out. WHEN I can decipher them!

    I’m always torn about baby days nostalgia. Because the baby days of my first two children were either cut brutally short or totally and utterly different from what I hoped or from the experiences of anybody that I know outside of the interwebz, I have a terrible need for babies.

    Oh geesh. What am I even rambling on about here? Gasping and flailing with you. I thought this would get easier but it still seems so terribly unfair and I want to scream. But there isn’t any time to scream. Just got to get on with it.

    Fight on, valiant friend.



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