The picture above is from 2011, but Mark made the lighted garland in the window many years ago. It’s the “essential” Christmas decoration, as far as I’m concerned. Some years, it was the only decoration that we bothered with. This year, that garland and the rest of the decorations stayed boxed up in the attic. It was a choice, mostly mine, but the boys went along with it. Our Christmas was spent at home, and the solution to New Years was to take a roadtrip to northeastern Oklahoma, to hang out in the country and set off some fireworks.
Last year, Mark and I didn’t cancel the holiday as much as we had nothing left over in us to deal with it. Loving friends and family took up the slack and brought the holidays to us. The result is the picture above – inside and outside, we had lights and we had Christmas. It’s a happy/sad memory. I remember being worried about how Mark would be able to withstand a party. I remember feeling relief. There was something else besides cancer to focus on. Right or wrong, I left Mark to mostly fend for himself and took advantage of the respite from being on duty as the “not the patient.” He stayed back, grateful and glad to see friends, but unable to participate. He hung out in the kitchen for a while, and then retreated to our bedroom. When I went in to check on him, we had this awkward scene where he was apologizing to me, when I could tell he was angry at me (for ??), just as I was reassuring him that it was fine for him to leave and that no one expected him to play host, when I’m sure he could tell I was angry with him (for ??).
I wonder if I will ever enjoy a “pure” memory of him, one that’s not tinged with sorrow, or guilt, or regret, or longing, or …??
Last Christmas, Mark and I were reconciled to a dark house and non-holiday. Instead, we got a party and a home flooded with light. This Christmas was about just getting through “the longest night,” in order to get past it. I rested. I celebrated, sometimes a little too much and sometimes not at all. Whatever. It’s over, it’s done. I’m on the other side.
With just enough time to get back up on my feet before the next big hurdle: January 27th, Mark’s birthday.
This is one of those posts where I have no great insights to tie it all up and give meaning to the suffering that my family has endured, or the heaps of blessings that we’ve received.
Sometimes grieving is just about sitting it the big middle of it and hoping you don’t drown.