This time last year, I had the kids and the dog in the car headed to Oklahoma, on the run from New Year’s Eve. The pain was overwhelming, a grinding knot of emotion that was only quiet if I was sleeping or medicated.
This year, it’s not quite as dramatic. The knot is there, but I can breathe some around it. I feel it, and I can remind myself “This too shall pass.”
Oh, but then again… The week before Christmas I was focused on a task at work, and one carol on the radio took me to the floor. I ended up crouched behind the counter, sobbing into my kneecaps and praying no one would come in before it was over.
Grief bursts. They happen. And then we pretend we have allergies and we motor on.
Laurie the grief counselor says that we get to do whatever we want for the holidays, even if that includes ignoring the holidays. Last year, to the best of my ability, I successfully ignored Thanksgiving and Christmas.
New Year’s Eve would not be ignored. Christmas pain was soft, often sentimental. This New Year’s Eve pain is like being repeatedly slapped in the face. Emotions run low, then high. Disappointments feel like blows, stinging. And through it all, a wild self-pity runs riot.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year wondering why. Why all this big emotional business around New Year’s Eve? Mark and I weren’t into the holiday. We usually stayed home, and more often than not, Mark was asleep before midnight. And still, a year ago today I wondered if I’d have to check myself into a hospital. (Grateful to say, I didn’t.)
Finally, Laurie the grief counselor defined it. New Year’s Eve isn’t only a holiday. It’s a signpost, a mile marker showing that Mark Daves was not here for the last 365 days. He never saw 2013. He will not see 2014. The gap is getting wider. More and more days are filling in the chasm between my Love and me.
Like last year, I took this week off instead of Christmas week. I wanted plenty of room for an escape. So far, the pain is less intense, quieter. I’ve had a good few days of rest and reconnecting with people who were vital friends. I have places that I can go, good options with old-old friends.
So, here’s some good news. Last year sucked. This year sucks less. The pain, it’s doable. It’s livable. It’s not so intense, not so big.
But it is here. Like Mr. Rochester’s mad wife locked up behind that door. She keeps rattling that door, jarring the locks, and you wonder what’ll happen if she ever gets loose.