It seems so wrong to say you “survived” the holidays.
This time last year I was happily about three months along, busily envisioning our baby’s first Christmas. I was just beginning to feel him move and kick, and it was exciting to dream of our future as a happy little family of father, mother, and child.
There’s that twinge, again, that sting of loss that doesn’t quite go away.
I had no idea.
Don’t get me wrong: our Christmas this year was quiet, homey, and good — it just wasn’t the glowing affair I had dreamed of, where we all gathered around the little tree and I held our wide-eyed child as we tried to show him or her (because last Christmas, I didn’t yet know I would have a son) how to open presents. It wasn’t filled with the joy of watching our little one roll around across the carpet and smile at us, or perhaps even giggle as he played with a new toy or board book.
This Christmas could have easily been dour, and sad, and painful simply for the reason that it didn’t live up to those lofty expectations, because the one thing I truly wanted for Christmas is beyond anybody’s power to give.
But it wasn’t any of those things. No, we didn’t decorate, we didn’t get a tree or hang stockings, but it was alright. It wasn’t “merry and gay” as the old carols say, but okay. We said our prayers and clung close to each other and enjoyed a rather wonderful meal together (even if my pumpkin pies didn’t turn out entirely as I hoped). And Michael’s absence only twinged a little.
I feel as though I can breathe easy, now, because while J and I may not be past all the hard parts, we’re past the lion’s share of them, and we’ll keep surviving, one day at a time, together, as a team. When one of us falls, the other’s hand is right there to help. As I look “over the hill” at the start of a new year, I have that feeling like we’re far enough up the side of the mountain that we can look over top of the dark valley toward the sunny horizon. That we’re almost there.
So if you ask, I’ll candidly say that I did survive the holidays, and even if you look shocked, I’ll still be satisfied because it’s not wrong, because grief is a rocky hillside of a journey, because look how far I’ve come.