Thursday, December 23, 2010

Surviving the Holidays

In just a few hours Owen will be waking up and we will both be getting ready for all of our Christmas Eve festivities. While most people may think that this year will be easier for us than last year was... I am honestly dreading this year more.

Last year, I was still in shock. Last year, I was on sleeping medication and anti-depressants. Last year, I was numb. Last year, I was coping for Owen... to make his first Christmas fun... to keep Bryan's memory alive.

Now, a year later... after all of the shock has worn off and reality has set in. I am hurting. I am dreading. I am sad.

Christmas has always been one of my favorite holidays. I love giving gifts. I love spending time with my family. I love playing board games till midnight. I love eating cookies and drinking egg nog. And I love surrounding myself with people who make me laugh.

Bryan and I would spend months preparing for the holidays. Sending out our Christmas cards, planning out our gifts and decorating our house. After Bryan passed away, we tried to get in the Christmas spirit and make Owen's first Christmas a memorable one... even though we were all just trying to survive. We decorated the tree, made the food, bought the gifts and put a smile on our faces... we tried to make it work.

This year, I am finding it harder to pretend and just "get" through the day. While I want to make Owen's day special... it is hard for me to not focus on the things that are missing. The things that I wish were with us.

When I close my eyes I can see Bryan playing Rock Band with my brothers... beating on the drums and head banging. I can see him giving my mom and dad a big hug when he opens his gifts. I can see him eating eggs benedict Christmas morning at his parents house. I can see him sitting in his parents basement... with his messy bed hair and red flannel pajama bottoms on... wrapped in a blanket.

I can see him. I can smell him. I can feel him.

To not have those things... those moments... those memories... it is really hard. I wish that Owen and him could wrestle on the floor on top of all the wrapping paper shreds. I wish they could snuggle on the couch and open gifts together. I wish they could open all of Owen's new toys and try them all out.

Oh how I wish... he was here... that he was with us... that he was with Owen.

Last year my father read a blessing that he wrote before we sat down to dinner. I think that it is fitting this year as well. Although it does not make Christmas any easier... it does help shift my focus (a little)...

Dear God,
We are here to express our gratitude for all of your blessings. You have given us so much. Not only providing us with what we need to live, but in giving us yourself. We are richly blessed and it is right to acknowledge that you are the source of all good things.

Yet, this day also brings a mix of emotions. We confess our thanks, but also our sadness because of the empty place at our table. We know that death and sorrow were not your original plan, but we also know that you use difficulties to draw us closer to you and to each other. Here and now fill the empty places in our hearts and this empty place at our table. Teach us to savor the moments we have with one another, to rightly remember what we have lost, but also to look forward in hope to what we have promised in the future.

We say again, "Your love is better than life." Thank you for all of your blessings. For even through the trials and loss you always somehow reveal your goodness.

In Jesus we pray. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Ashley,
    I am so very sorry that you, too, are on this road of widowhood. It totally sucks. But it does get easier to bear. The second year for me was worse than the first. The shock wore off and the pain was almost too much to take. I didn't want to be here anymore.
    But here I am ..... and it's only been one day, minute, breath at a time.
    I have a long list of other widowed blogs listed on my blog. Please know that you are not alone. When you read our blogs you'll realize that. You'll also find out that you aren't crazy ..... just grieving.
    You are in my thoughts......