I took a week off from blogging last week. I wrote stuff anyway. I just can’t seem to help myself.
It is Christmas day in the worst year of my life, and I am a ghost.
I rise early, dragging myself from a slumber that is the sleep of the living dead… if I could stay forever, warm and comfortable in that blackness, no children to rouse me with demands, wants and needs… If I could stay there, undisturbed, I would.
But I scramble myself and my senses from my bed as soon as my son calls that “Santa has been!” It may be the only thing, that tone of jittered, wondered excitement, that is capable of rousing a mother from deep sleep just as quickly as the hungry squall of a newborn, or the shriek of a toddler’s nightmare.
We examine the milk and cookies Santa has devoured, the plate the reindeer’s apple has disappeared from. I don’t take photos, although I take my camera with me. A hollow voice that sounds like an old, stretched cassette tape played over and over in my mind tells me ‘You may regret this, you may wish you had taken photos…’, but I ignore it and it causes me no anxiety. If this is tempting fate, then let it be tempted, I think, and the thought comes with a small dose of spite, but it’s cold and factual, no hot passion or spiked emotions. Because I am numb today, a nothing, holding in my husk the memories of last Christmas, just before things fell apart.
I smile, but it is plastered on, and my thoughts are a rocking rhythm of “This time last year…”
It becomes a heartbeat, a sentiment that threads itself throughout my entire day… “This time last year, we were doing this… This time last year, we were doing that.” It’s pointless and painful and it feels like biting on a rotten tooth over and over again but I just can’t seem to help it.
I am a ghost, and I exist here only for my children, to give them a Christmas they deserve. I float through the day, from place to place, house to house, family to family. I take deep breaths and try to keep that concrete numbness, because today it feels better than heart ache. Time passes, as it always does, and the day runs along like lava, flowing and bumping into itself, leaving ugly hills of dried gunk behind it. I am so glad when we are home, back were we belong. When our duties are done, our presents unwrapped, my children’s tiny souls filled to the brim with peppermint striped Christmas happiness… when this first horrible, lonely Christmas is over.
I try not to think, I try not to remember, and still I am unable to help it. This time last year, Christmas Day after the sun went down… Drinking with my husband, laughing over our children, sitting on his lap in our purple backyard courtyard as the dark settled and the stars came out.
This Christmas is over, thank goodness, it’s done and I don’t have to do it for the first time again… December has been quick and pleasant and easy. And December-ridiculous month, all show and pomp and bluster and busyness- is done with now, it’s just two more weeks and I will have made one year. And I never have to do those ’firsts’ again.
I make it almost until the end of December. The panic attacks, the one I didn’t think I could have anymore… They start then, and they don’t let up for days.
I am drowning, screaming, sobbing, a mess of emotions and heartache and despair and guilt. I knew this was coming, I knew it would happen.. It doesn’t make it any easier doesn’t make it hurts any less. The ferocity of the pain surprises even me… Aren’t we over this, this racking, sobbing, heart clenching grief, are we not over it already? It seems not. I thought I could roll through the one year mark much easier than this… it’s just another one of those things where I should have known better, and didn’t. It’s just reality, smacking me in the face again. Because I keep forgetting, somehow, how painful this can be.