Posted by: JulieAloha | November 24, 2016

Holiday blues and shades of gray

Yesterday was the day before Thanksgiving. I had endured the rain and holiday traffic to travel out to my mother’s home the evening before and stayed the night. We’d watched a movie together and talked of inconsequentials and discussed the schedule for the following day having planned to celebrate Thanksgiving one day early, just she and I and my niece, as both my niece and I must work on the actual holiday. We retired for the night to our rooms and, as is my habit of late, I watched Netflix until I was exhausted enough to drop off to sleep without losing myself to grief. Surprisingly, for the first night in a long while I slept until my alarm rang the following morning, having forgotten to turn it off the previous evening. Still, my first thought, as every morning, was of him and a familiar wave of melancholy washed over me. Quickly I plugged headphones in to my phone so as not to disturb my mother’s sleep while I listened to an audiobook and pulled out a crochet project to distract myself, not allowing grief to overtake me as it has so many mornings. Within the hour my mother woke and rose to start the day, checking the 15lb bird and going over her list of preparations. I moved to the dining table, continuing my crocheting as she puttered about the house from kitchen to living room to laundry room and back, but I had to give up listening to my audiobook as she interjected questions and statements at odd times, breaking my concentration. We had a simple breakfast, some scones kindly made by a neighbor, then decided to take a walk around the block as the rain seemed to be holding off. It was crisp and quiet. We chatted amiably as we tramped along, not rushing but enjoying each other’s company, though I still felt an ever present circle of silence around me, sorrow held at bay by the slimmest of margins. Returning, we moved in some bins I’d brought out to store at her house, attempted to attach her new vent cover, but the new cover didn’t match where the old one had screwed into the frame, so we gave that up as a bad job. Then I tried to tackle her Christmas tree…

She has a small artificial tree which she had tried to store intact from the previous year, but in bringing it up from storage it had come apart and was tangled up in the lights and fallen branches. This proved to be my undoing. My frustration at trying to untangle the lights from missing branches and figure out which branches were supposed to fit in this notch at that level expanded past my carefully maintained bubble of restraint and threw me into a fit of tears and uncontrolled sobs, wallowing in the memory of my joy and happiness the previous year with him and grieving his complete absence this season. Last year we were together. Last year we were so happy. Last year he still loved me, but no longer. My poor mother tried vainly to offer assistance or suggestions of abandoning the lights or even the tree altogether as she was drawn into my grieving in sympathy of my sorrow. I fought against my tears, embarrassed and resentful because of them and not wanting it to spoil our day. Another half an hour passed before I could once more bring it under tenuous control and rather angrily finish reconstructing the tree.

The rest of the day passed well enough. It was good to see my niece, who is currently away at college, and our dinner turned out perfectly, despite some early concern about the gravy. We had turkey and stuffing, baked sweet potatoes, cheesy spaghetti squash (made by my niece), and homemade cranberry sauce – delicious! We visited before, during and after the meal until my niece had to leave, having a long drive before her and anticipating heavy holiday traffic. I remained for a bit, finishing up my crocheted scarf and gathering my things to go home. My mother and I each had a piece of pumpkin pie and then walked around the block once more before I bid her goodnight and drove home to my empty house, alone again.

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