January 5, 2010

So, how were your holidays? . . .

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:27 am by letterstoelias

One of my new, most dreaded questions.

How exactly do I answer that?  ‘As good as can be expected’?  How do you even know what to expect on your first ‘widowed’ Christmas?  How are you supposed to celebrate?  And for those who don’t know about you – do I stick with the standard, ‘Fine’?  In ‘some ways’ it was, but, really, without you it wasn’t.

Anyhow, Christmas day came and went, without you.  We kept it low key, which is all I felt I could handle.  I ended up making yet another last minute decision to stay the night of Christmas Eve at my parents home.  I initially wanted to stay at our home and perhaps try to do something in the morning to honour you before diving into the day and the presents and what not, but I worried that the girls would have a different focus and it wouldn’t go as I wanted.  Instead, we packed up our belongings after dinner, and then took a few moments with ‘you’ before leaving.  The girls and I sat in front of the little altar I created for you in my room, we lit a candle, and they each wrote a letter to you (ok, well I did the writing) and drew a picture.  We took a few moments of silence to think of you, and then they each put their letter to you in your stocking.

We packed up all the presents, stockings, and the candle, and headed to my Mom and Dad’s.  I was feeling extremely exhausted, got them to bed (and they were extremely excited), and finished wrapping presents.  After the girls were in bed, my parents and I watched some of the sports plays of the year – another tradition we used to have (and I’d love to update you on how things are going in the hockey world, but believe it or not I haven’t watched a single game – not even the world juniors, but I think Canada’s in the finals . . . another tradition gone for us.  I miss watching hockey with you).  Somehow I fell asleep that night.

The girls were up early and ready to get going on their stockings.  We lit the candle again first, then let them go at it.  When they were finished with theirs, I drew their attention to the fact that something was in your stocking.  The letters they wrote were gone, but something was in its place.  An extremely shiny ornament.  It seemed a little odd to them, but then I directed them to notice a present in the tree with the same wrapping paper as the ornament.  It was a book, titled ‘Everything that Shines’.  A beautiful book about a girl and her horse.  Long story short, the horse dies and the girls grandpa helps her to see that because she loved the horse so much, she could still see the horse – just in a different way.  She could see her in everything that shines.  E got the connection pretty well, but as there was a lot going on that day, she moved passed it pretty quickly.  I couldn’t expect much more on the actual day, but I’m happy that since Christmas, she has noted a few shiny things to me and told me that they make her think of you.  We also discovered that Santa must shop at London Drugs, because the ornaments were there (I had gone to get more and hoped to distract her while I picked them up, but she saw them right away on the shelf) – and now we have a number of them hanging in the house.  When the light hits them they really do shine.  I think they somehow give me as much, if not more comfort then the girls.

After the stockings we had some breakfast, then tackled the rest of the presents.  C loves her new little kitchen, though she gave up half way through unwrapping it as she said it was too hard.  E loves her plasma car – and the girls have been sharing both of those gifts (from my parents) wonderfully.  They ride together on the car as if in a parade, then they drive by the kitchen to pick up the cookies they made.  It’s very cute.  I can only imagine how much fun you would have had on the plasma car.  On Christmas morning, as I watched E ride around, I pictured you – with that big smile and laugh – having a great time with it.  As for me, I LOVE my new lens my Dad got me, and I’ve been having fun putting it to use.  The girls got some other fun stuff too, as did I – including my mom getting the girls to help make me a new laptop case (I’ll have to post a photo sometime).  E had a great time playing ‘santa’ since she could read all the names, but she was so excited handing them out that we couldn’t keep up.  I had to remind her a few times to slow down, but I was happy that it was not because she was tearing crazily through her own gifts.  C started to get a little overwhelmed towards the end, threw a few presents that were handed to her to unwrap, then trying to unwrap other peoples gifts while laughing maniacally, but overall she enjoyed it.

After the presents were all opened, the girls were primarily content to play with their new ‘loot’ for the day.  C was overtired and had a few meltdowns here and there, and I spent the whole day in pajamas, much of it just lying on the floor or almost falling asleep on the couch.  The day actually seemed to go pretty fast.  We lit the candle once again for dinner – I couldn’t help but look to it all the time.  Wishing it was really you instead.  As I took the first load of bags out to the car, something stopped me in my tracks.  I walked out of the house and looked up to see, directly in front of me, a beautifully bright, lone star above the trees.  It made me think of the last line of Wintersong:

A sense of joy, fills the air

And I daydream, and I stare

Above the trees and I see your star, up there.

It gave me chills.  I looked around and didn’t see any other stars immediately, and shook my head, and smiled.  Of course when I took the second load out to the car I noticed many other stars, but for that moment it felt like there was only one.  And perhaps it was yours.

Though I managed to get through the day without breaking down (too numb and too tired I think), coming home was hard.  As soon as we started to drive off, it started to hit me.  Walking into the cold, empty house, another hit.  After the girls were in bed, I was feeling pretty down, but fortunately Brenda called (even though it was 1am for her), and we had a nice chance to talk.  As I went to bed I saw Peter and Ally online, so I chatted with them for a bit too, which was another nice distraction.  The next few days I just felt pretty numb.  I was on the ‘other side’ of Christmas, but it was still hard.  I did a couple of photo shoots for the Aspire program, which was fun – but I was quite nervous as it had been so long since I had done a shoot like that, and as I walked out the door I really missed your encouragement and confidence in me.  The way you would help calm me when I was nervous for a shoot.  The kiss you would give me, telling me I looked great and I would be fine.  Reason number 16,123 to miss you.

I had to work in town on Thursday, so we went on Wed night and stayed with your parents.  Thursday was new years eve.  The ferry home was really busy and awful.  Line ups for the bathroom, and trying to fit all three of us in those tiny stalls, with C trying to crawl out under the door was a nightmare.  Then the lineup in the cafeteria was long and C decided it was time (3 times actually) to really show that she’s two as she lay down on her back and cried in the middle of the caf as I was trying to get the food and pay for it.  Of course, by the time we got a table and sat down we had about 4 minutes to eat before the docking announcements.  We had initially planned to go to Buz and Sian’s for new years, but by the time we were home I had a terrible headache and was feeling nauseous (as noted in my last letter) and we were all just tired.

After the girls were asleep, I ‘planned’ to go to bed early.  I was crying.  A lot.  I spoke for a bit on the phone with Sian, then cried off to sleep somewhere around 10:30.  New Years was hard.  Harder than Christmas for me, somehow.  I hoped it would end there.  For some reason, it just wasn’t my day.  It was faint at first, I barely remember hearing it – but C was crying.  As it got louder and I realized she wasn’t going to stop on her own, I was gradually waking up, but it hit me.  I hadn’t looked at the clock yet, but I knew it wasn’t quite 12am.  And I knew it was close.  Somehow, I knew.  I couldn’t believe it.  I begrudgingly looked, and sure enough, 11:39am.

I picked C up as she was on her way to my room.  I thought perhaps I could just fall back asleep quickly with the girls.  She was trying to say something through her cries, but I was so tired I didn’t catch it.  It was only when I lay down with her back on the bed that I realized – she had thrown up.  Great.  Fortunately (?) it was really only on the comforter, so I changed that quickly and they fell right back asleep.  I was not quite so lucky.  Back in bed at 11:48.

I kept my back to the clock, but it felt as if it was mocking me.  Taunting me to look and see that it was almost midnight.  The soft green light from the numbers felt like it was burning my back.  I felt each silent tick of the clock.  It was agony.  Again, without looking – I knew it was 12.  I felt it.  A second later I heard the fireworks starting.  Bang after bang, feeling like a kick in the stomach.

Why?  Seriously.  Why did I have to be awake for that?  I could have missed it.  For once, I was asleep before midnight.

Had I not cried enough yet?  Are there still a few pieces of my heart left to tear?  It sure doesn’t feel like it.

It was awful.  Definitely a low point for me.  I felt like a zombie all day Friday.  Sian came over to help with the girls so I could catch up on some of my Aspire homework, then we went to their place for a delayed new years (and our pizza Friday).  I’ve still been ‘coming down’ from it all and have been feeling very weepy lately, but I somehow managed to make my first quilt in the midst of it all.  It was Buz’s birthday on Sunday, so it was for him.  Yes, I made a quilt (and no my mom didn’t do it for me – though I couldn’t have done it without her guidance). Aspire started up again today, and now we are in the final two weeks of workshops before I have the crunch to finalize my business plan.  I still have some catching up to do on homework, but LB is coming to help out on Wednesday, which will be great.  I still need to find a name for the store though.  It’s tough.  Really tough.

Well, as I have a workshop tomorrow morning, I should get to bed . . . I planned on adding photos tonight, but perhaps they will have to wait for another day or two – sorry!  In the meantime you can have a glance at my dad’s flickr page for his Christmas photos (along with shots of our special visitor that came by in the afternoon on Christmas Eve).  I just wanted to let you know that I survived the holidays.  I missed you terribly.  I got a few extra wounds along the way, but I’m still here.  I guess that could be my answer . . . .


P.S.  I Love you



  1. brenda said,

    I’ve discovered the perfect response to “how were your holidays” is “there were good moments.”


    • letterstoelias said,

      I like that one – I think I’ll have to use it! Thanks =)


  2. Roads said,

    That’s a fantastically graphic account. The fretting, anxious decisions. The horrors. The quickly skating attention of the little ones. The meltdowns. The logistical nightmares in the restaurant queues and toilets. The torture of the clock.

    Christ, I can remember it so well, although fortunately not all on the same day.

    All I can say is that here is testament to what you lived through. You’ll look back on this and be amazed, and yet really understand exactly what it is that made you the wiser and stronger person that you are and will become.

    Well done. That’s very well done indeed.

    • letterstoelias said,

      Thanks again so much. I hear the phrase ‘You are so strong’ so often, and though I don’t feel as if I deserve it most of the time. I guess I have a hard time seeing it as a matter of strength – but I suppose it is.

      I’ve had countless moments of weakness – where I’ve felt my heart was ready to give out from the weight of it all (and new years was one of those), and I guess fixate more on the weak moments – but I see that getting through those moments is what takes the strength, and builds it for the next time. Thus, as you say, becoming a stronger person.

      I often wish I could have stayed weak and ignorant in exchange for Elias to stay – but since that was not in our cards, I guess I’ll take strength and wisdom as an outcome.

  3. Roads said,

    Did you have a lovely Christmas?

    I’m a peaceful bloke, on the whole, but frankly I wanted to punch their bloody lights out.

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