I spent Christmas day in Derbyshire, in a hired house, with Kevin’s family. It was a lovely day, but all the more poignant for me that I was with all his family without him. It felt very odd. I am glad I did it though, it was a chance for us all to acknowledge the strangeness of the situation together. Perhaps all the stranger for some of them, because Kevin may not have been with them on that day anyway, and it was all the more noticeable to me, because what bound me to them was him. The Menace had a great time with his cousins, he played brilliantly with the little ones (a 2 year old and 2 and a half year old).
Kevin was an absolute baby about Christmas, as his brother said “he was a pain”, he never really got over the childish excitement and used to wake me and the Menace up telling us “Santa has been!!” so the Menace would race out of bed in an excited frenzy. He insisted on the morning being a frenzy of present opening, it all HAD to be done in one go and then after that there would be a trip to the pub, then an afternoon of eating and telly. This is not my ideal of Christmas, but itwas my husbands’. This was the first year that the Menace had to wait to open some of his presents until midday.
We did do a trip to the pub, and I raised my glass to him, then during our meal in the afternoon the Menace asked to do the same, bringing tears to all our eyes. I found myself very busy at that moment sharing out the Christmas pudding! (He doesn’t like it when I cry). I really missed him but also realized that I now have to make Christmas my own. I will keep up some of the traditions he bought to it, I like going to the pub for a drink at lunch, usually to catch up with friends, although not in Derbyshire. I am trying to keep up our Christmas fish collection (we have some very expensive decorations which we have built up over the years), even though the shop has closed down. Thanks to Jo Morton of Morton and Sedgewick, a friend of ours, who bought some to sell, I can carry on the collection. But I am keen to reduce the present frenzy in the morning, mainly because I feel the Menace feels that what matters is to accumulate lots of presents, not to appreciate them as he gets them.
Certainly for me, the meal is a focus of family attention, this was less important for Kevin, but then he never had to spend all of January on a diet to get over the “eating season”. I now realize that I must build my own traditions and make it a family day for us that still matters but is our own. Someone did say to me this was a day that would stand out as different, and it did, they were right. I have made up my mind though, to move forward, and do to so bravely. Change isn’t a bad thing, it is necessary, tradition is good, but only when justified. We have to acknowledge that we are different to how we were, but that is okay too. Getting through the Christmas season has been hard, but also has given me a sense of freedom, it is okay to just be us (me and the Menace)!!
I don’t know if I am explaining myself very well here, about a week before Christmas, the dog was ill and wouldn’t sleep, I came downstairs and we both curled up on the sofa. I had a really weird dream, where Kevin came to see me as a ghost, all excited about Christmas,, in my mind I was worrying how the Menace would take this, I have spent all this time making sure that he understood the finality of death, and here was Kevin, I could almost feel him, it felt very uncomfortable, and I woke up a bit unnerved. In my dream I was worried how Kevin’s ghost, coming to join in Christmas, because he so loved it, would work. I have taken this dream to be my anxiety about how to do Christmas without Kevin, he didn’t call me the Grinch for nothing, but I have now realized that it is okay to be different, to move the journey forward, and not live in fear of a memory. I can now look back happily but also look forward happily too. I suppose this is what Kubler-Ross calls acceptance.
First of all, I need to do that January diet, and get back into running, as the London Marathon is not far off and I am doing it in his memory, for Beating Bowel Cancer, so onward we go, perhaps a bit quicker than I have been going!