Joe and I loved entertaining. Nothing made us happier than having company, Joe makes the bloody marys and I do the egg skillet. He’d slice up fruit into some type of design and even line up the little napkins on the counter.
So many of those memories got lost in the back of my mind because sickness was so predominately in front.
But it all came rushing back to me as I wrapped my hand around a roll of cheese and prosciutto at the grocery today. It’s the “fancy” cheese Joe buys when friends come over. I stared at the $6 cheese in my hand and felt the warm tears trickle down my face.
I was quickly brought back to reality with Mira’s little cookie covered hand blowing kisses at the produce guy and we were on our way.
It hits you in the strangest of times, the most obscure thing can transport you back in time to remember something you nearly had swept away from your memory.
The holidays are like a million of these little things all smushed into a few days and it hurts. I can’t even watch Home Alone this Christmas because it just is too painful.
I sometimes have to give myself breaks from social media as I see the smiling faces of moms and dads wrapping presents together or a family all dressed up to carry out their family traditions.
I couldn’t help but think of a friend of mine who lost her baby girl this year. I wondered if all of the pictures of Mira with a giant bow make her long for the baby she didn’t get to know. I wondered if our grief felt the same but so different. I wondered how she’s getting through this time of year. I wonder if she sometimes hates happy people because it makes you realize just how sad you are.
Joe always fought against this while dealing with cancer. Instead of getting mad at happy people he tried to make a sad person feel better. He used to give a homeless person $20 on his way to chemotherapy. He always said it was good karma, good therapy.
The holidays hurt and I know I’m not the only one who is feeling the pain, the sting in your heart as you plaster a smile on your face. I’ve felt it in past years too. Our first Christmas without Joe’s dad. The Christmases before that wondering if this would be the last.
New traditions, new normals, old memories.
Be aware that someone is hurting at your table during the holidays. It could be from the loss of a loved one, it could be that someone they love is sick, a bad break-up, a divorce, the loss of a child. I’m telling you right now, they want to talk about it. Please don’t ignore that someone is hurting this Christmas.
It’s okay to hug them and tell them how brave they are. It’s not okay to meddle in their life and how they should be grieving or dealing with what’s been thrown in their face.
In fact, stick with two options this holiday. 1.) A compliment OR 2.) Bring them a drink
Save the questions for another time but instead share a memory of the person they lost, acknowledge things suck.
For me, it’s all I want to do is talk about Joe. I want to tell a million stories, I want to feel like he mattered, that life is not just going on without him. I want to think about the year I surprised him with a TV or he bought me a fake fireplace so I could hang stocking. I also remember the hole we burnt in the wall of our apartment with said fire place, oopsy.
We are going to shake up traditions this year. We mix our families because we are all one at this point, my brother is his brother and we all make it work. We are going to do a big Santa set up and I’m going to let myself cry because I know how much Joe would love this.
Our little girl rips open the paper of every package under the tree (whether it’s hers or not).
The holidays are stressful but don’t forget to open your eyes this year. Live everything Joe didn’t get to. Help those all around you who are hurting. Honor the people you’ve lost and sing Jingle Bells as loud as you can.
Notice everything because you just never know when you’ll miss it. You never know how tight you can hold onto a piece of cheese because you can’t hold on to the person you love.