This holiday season has been a bit different for me. I am feeling ok…even better than ok most days. The sense that I am beginning to thrive again is sinking into my soul. Our seventh Christmas since he died, our eighth Christmas since cancer struck, my first Christmas not completely taken back by his absence. Each year has been different. Every Christmas growth has occurred. From the first Christmas when we left town because I knew I would not be able to handle a Christmas morning alone, to the second and third when I marched through dutifully, to the fourth, fifth and sixth when we began our own traditions and tears came less and less often during the day. He is always missed. His absence will always be felt. Losing him will always be woven into who we are, but as year seven holidays begin to pass I think we’ve acclimated.
There were no tears yesterday. There were no children with deep, sorrowful eyes. There was no mommy running off to the bedroom to cry so the children’s Christmas morning would be spoiled. There were two joyful, grateful children who opened gifts and said thank you. There were hugs that meant something deep. There were kids playing joyfully (without much sib fighting) nearly all day. There was a mommy who rested peacefully. I have mixed feelings about this one…no one said “I miss daddy” or “I miss him so much today”…I know that we don’t have to say things to still be feeling them, but the feelings of grief never bubbled into words yesterday. In only one short moment before my big boy went to bed, he came to me with some tears wanting a hug. He said he’s afraid of me getting old…he wants me to live forever…he doesn’t want to be separated from family again.
We have acclimated. We have survived. We have begun to live a life we are accustomed to now. We know he won’t be here for Christmas, for New Year’s, for birthdays…well for any day at all. We know he loved us and did everything within his power to stay here. We know he died. We know it changed us forever. We are living in the change. We have acclimated.
So what about possibilities?
My heart has always been open to possibilities. First there was the possibility that I would survive this heartache. Then there was the possibility that I was open to caring for someone again. Now, I have been given the possibility to open my heart wide again. Someone has walked into my life from an unexpected place and wants into my heart. I am filled with trepidation yet he feels familiar. I am nervous, but he calms me. He knows my story and he doesn’t run away…he embraces it. Possibility. A chance to risk again invigorates me and terrifies me. What if I give my heart again wholly and completely, only to have it land in shattered pieces on the ground again?
What if I give my heart completely and wholly and everything works out? I don’t know which terrifies me more…
What if my boys open their hearts and have them broken? I don’t know if I’d survive that one…but what if they open their hearts and find a place of peace that helps them heal?
Possibility? Yes, definitely. Terrifying? Yes, definitely. Calming? Yes-all of these things all at once…
Hope. Yes. Definitely.