Well, the weather here currently sucks. I doubt you could get a duck into the air without a catapult it is that wet; and roads are going under everywhere. I thought it would be a good weather for writing a new post.
The boys are currently occupied. Michael is on Skype with a friend whilst playing the Playstation and Daniel is going between Spongebob and Youtube.
Now that Christmas is over, it almost feels like it never happened. I have always disliked the ‘end of the holidays’ feeling that comes along at this time. Maybe it is just me, but it always feels like a real downer. I am noticing it even more so this new year. I thought I’d focus this post around the December/Christmas/New Year period as I know a lot of people were concerned for us about how we would cope, this being our first Christmas without Judy.
I have to say that I found the lead up to Christmas to be far worse than Christmas itself. December launched with a notification from Lake Macquarie Memorial Park that Judy’s granite marker and photo were completed and in position. It took me over a week to build up the courage to visit. I decided to make the first trip alone as I had no idea how I would react, and while it is healthy for the kids to see me grieve, I did not want to have to push my own emotions aside to help them face theirs. I needed to do this without an audience or support. It was a Friday afternoon when I arrived, the weather pleasant. Rather surprisingly I did not collapse to the ground, as I half expected I would, when faced with her memorial. Maybe my brain had just given me a worst case scenario and made me prepare for it. It was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong, it was a long way from painless, and tears were shed, but it was not the crippling experience I had braced myself for.
The one truth that leaped out at me was this. ‘Judy is not here’. I had no sense of her at all. Her ashes may be buried here but this is not where her spirit is. This is a place for us, her family and friends to remember her, to grieve if needed, and that is all. She is wherever we carry her in our hearts. I myself have no desire to go back in the near future, except to take the boys for their first visit. I feel closer to her memory at home so doubt I will make the trip more than a few times a year.
Moving on. As usual in December it is time for setting up the tree and Christmas decorations and shopping. I had a struggle doing the tree and indoor decorations this year. Inside was Judy’s domain. Each year she would decide on a style to deck out the house in. There would be tinsel and over-sized baubles everywhere, the tree would have a definite theme. It always looked amazing. I got to do the outdoor lighting setup. Well this year I managed to get up a lot of tinsel, the tree done in my style and the outside lighting (thanks to Michael’s insistence). While I did not feel like it when I began, the Christmas Spirit had hit me by the end. Carols playing and all. I was totally glad I did it.
I found the shopping to be extremely hard. It was like being on a roller coaster ride. One minute I would be on a massive Christmas high, loving every minute, the next a huge depressing low. I would find myself picking things up and wondering what Judy would think, would she approve, was I spending too much, all of that. I actually thought about calling her more than once before my brain caught up. Those are the moments that really tear you down. The little things that you miss so much. Pam and I were both missing Judy terribly during this period and ended up becoming a defacto Judy stand in for each other. I found myself asking her opinion on all the things I would normally ask Judy, and we would hang out and go shopping together, just like they used to. I am sure it was an inadequate substitute for us both but it was all we had so we made it work. I know it helped me get through.
So that was the lead up.
Judy’s father arrived Christmas Eve ready to spend his first Christmas Day with us. The day itself was great, the boys had a blast and got pretty much most of what they wanted, plus a few extras. We all ate more than is healthy, as usual, and had a few tasty beverages as well. I remember the day passing with only the briefest bitter pang of sorrow, most of my memories were pleasant and joyful ones, and the new ones made were done in good company. The boys’ recollections of Mummy were joyful and not sad thank goodness. More family visited over the next few days to round out Christmas nicely. New Years Eve on the Maitland riverbank gave me a choked up moment or two as Judy truly loved it, but I made it through.
So that brought about the end of a tough period. It has now been a little over 5 months since Judy left us, and I have found it true what certain people have said. The pain of such a loss is something you never get over, it does not lessen; it is just something you just learn to manage, something you learn to live with. Some days you nearly choke on it, but you hold on as hard as you can. I doubt you can ever stop loving that person either, at least I can’t see that happening from my perspective. All I can hope is that eventually my heart will grow and find room enough to one day love another, just as Judy wished.
All the best for the New year everyone. Stay safe.