The first of everything is painful after the death of a loved one, especially the person with whom you shared your days & nights, your hopes & dreams, your other self.
Over the past months I've struggled through buying and selling our first house, Chris' birthday, our first wedding anniversary, and Thanksgiving. Others in his life have also passed their own milestones: his grandmother, parents, and brother have now each celebrated their first birthdays without a phone call or a card from Chris.
He wasn't there to raise a glass or make a wry joke or suggest a good restaurant for a birthday dinner. We've remembered him at those times when we gather together as friends or family but our celebrations are just a little quieter and there's a trembling of emotion in our laughter.
And now it's Christmas... the most storied and emotionally fraught celebration of the year.
When Chris and I bought our house, we served notice to family that we would be hosting this year. We had already planned where we were going to put our first tree (real of course!) and what we were going to serve for Christmas dinner (crown roast instead of turkey). There were covert plans to hide the television so that we would all spend the afternoon together talking or playing boardgames or going for a walk or singing along badly to cheesy Christmas tunes or all of the above.
Christmas this year will be a difficult and strange one. None of us is quite sure how to get through it. Chris' absence will be blatant - perhaps even more so for his family because I will be there but he won't. It's not like the Christmas when the two of us went to visit my parents and we were both absent from his parents' house. Not buying gifts for him, not writing cards with him, not debating the merits of gravy vs. cranberry sauce - all of these are making my heart ache even more than usual.
Somehow we'll stumble through the emotional minefield of the next week. I'm blessed with friends and in-laws who consider me family. Although I may feel lonely without Chris, I won't be alone this Christmas. I'm luckier than many. If you know someone who may be alone this Christmas, consider how much comfort you could give them by inviting them into your lives this holiday.