Christmas in Florida

Two years ago I was at a support group meeting for victims of crime.  It was just before Christmas and one of the questions was, “Are you looking forward to Christmas?”  I believe I was the only one there that night that said, “Yes.”  Most of the others have lost children or siblings or the innocence of their children.  And they were pretty much unanimous, “No.”  I understood why they weren’t looking forward to Christmas in their situations.  When you lose a child who loves Christmas and always helped you decorate – how do you decorate a tree without them?  There is always someone missing at the table.  There are presents missing under the tree.  I can’t imagine the heartbreak that these parents have gone through over the years.  The majority of them said that they would prefer to be anywhere but home at Christmas.  The memories are just too painful.  I watched my Mother struggle through Christmas for many years.  It was my Dad’s favorite holiday.

Well, I felt a little left out.  Not in a bad way, there is always acceptance in this group.  But for me my loss happened before I knew about Christmas.  They were just as I had always known them.  And I have my children to celebrate with.  Christmas had changed with the passing of my father-in-law and my grandmothers but not enough to make me avoid the celebration.  And that year was one of the best Christmases we had with my Mom and family.  But as I answered that question with “yes” I had no idea that would be my last Christmas with my Mom.  I had no idea that she would die one week before Christmas and her birthday the next year.  My answer would be different now.

Pasith and I have lost three parents between us.  My Dad passed away right before Father’s Day, his own birthday and my birthday.  Pasith’s Dad passed in the 4 days between our wedding anniversary and Pasith’s birthday.  And my Mom passed one week before her birthday and Christmas.  Except for our children’s birthdays every one of our celebratory days has now been impacted and surrounded by death.  It has always been a struggle to see the joy through the pain around my Dad’s death.  And then when Pasith’s Dad died just a few weeks before the anniversary of my Dad it made it even more difficult to ride the roller coaster but we have fought our way through it.  And now Christmas isn’t even safe.  It now has a giant scar.

December was a blur last year.  I don’t really remember much of December at all.  It was spent driving and waiting.  And when Mom finally did pass on December 17th, her funeral on the 20th, her burial on the 21st and we got home on the 22nd, everyone knew it was pretty much a right off for us.  We had bought the kids a few gifts in November not knowing what to expect so we did make an effort for them but my son and I were very sick for about 4 days from Christmas Eve on which didn’t help much.  But we tried.  As far as everyone else was concerned it was accepted and understandable that we were not in the Christmas spirit.

This year I am really struggling.  My husband and I wish we could just get on a plane and go to Florida or Mexico away from the usual northern reminders of Christmas.  But we can’t.  And we know it’s not fair to the kids.  But I have no interest in it whatsoever.  It may change as it gets closer and as my daughter gets excited about putting up the tree and decorating.  It may change as we buy and wrap gifts.  It may change when I go to the Christmas Eve service in honor of Mom’s birthday.  Or it might not.  It may change next year, or not.  I don’t like it that the death of my Mom overshadows not only my Christmas but my children, my husband and my involvement with our families but I just can’t pretend this year.  Maybe I’ll feel up to it next year or maybe I’ll just start saving up for Florida.

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