Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Part 37 Special Edition
Wanted to get one last post in before 2010 ends. I’ve been so remiss on keeping up with my blogging, and even though I set myself the goal of completing my story by year end, that wasn’t enough to make me follow through.
This Christmas 2010 was the ten year anniversary of losing my late husband, Rob, to suicide. I normally do a lot of reflecting during the month of December anyhow, but this year I did even more so. I realized ten years have gone by, I wondered where the time had flown to, what had I accomplished and how did I feel about that?
As I grew up I always loved the traditions of Christmas, the tree, the decorations, the yummy food and treats and Christmas music. The times shared by family, the wrapping of gifts, hoping everyone loves what you got them as much as you loved it. Rob was German so we always celebrated on Christmas Eve, this way I got two Christmases and there was never any conflict between the families. Rob however was not at all into Christmas. He always viewed it as too much hustle and bustle, too much stress for just a short period of time. I didn’t let that deter me, but eventually it did take the glow off and I more or less went through the motions because I thought I should.
When my son was born, it rejuvenated my love of Christmas for a while. As he got a bit older, it was so much fun filling up his stocking, putting the presents under the tree and waiting for him to wake up and watch his face as he excitedly rushed out to see what Santa had left him. Having small children around who still believe in Santa really infuses Christmas spirit I find.
Christmas 2000 was an especially difficult one for me as Rob and I had been separated for almost 10 months. I still put up the tree, decorated the house, bought presents, stocking stuffers and went through all the motions as I wanted to give my 9 1/2 year old son as “normal” a Christmas as I could under the circumstances.
Rob had first attempted suicide Dec. 6th, 2000. There were quite a few more attempts that he told me about, in very great detail and I knew he was truly in trouble, but kept trying to keep his spirits up and get him the help he needed. He was really down the day before Christmas Eve, but promised my son he’d be at his sister’s for Christmas Eve so we all expected him there. I really was not in the mood or energy level to be sharing Christmas with anyone, but forced myself to do it and get through it. I thought momentarily to call Rob the day of Christmas Eve, but was so burned out by everything that I just figured it was up to him to get himself to his sister’s. My son and I drove there, everyone else from his family was there and were all asking about Rob.
Rob’s Mom had called Rob several times but to no avail. I didn’t call, just focused on getting through the visit, opening the gifts, having dinner and making sure my son had a good Christmas, which he did. In fact, Christmas was often stressful with my in-laws as my father-in-law could be pretty unpredictable mood wise and usually was stressed the entire month of December, much of this I’m sure is why Rob didn’t look forward to Christmas. I remember sitting back while at my sister-in-law’s thinking this was one of the most relaxed, happy Christmases I could remember with them and thought what a shame it was that Rob had decided not to attend.
His place at the dinner table was vacant, even more of a reminder that he wasn’t there and we all worried about him and why he hadn’t shown up. We finished dinner, packed up all our goodies and drove back home. I put my son to bed, read him my old copy of Night Before Christmas from when I was a little girl, and then got his stocking and presents under the tree. I thought about calling Rob to see if he was okay, but was so angry that he’d not kept his word, was so tired of the stress and worry that I decided not to call.
Next morning I asked my son to call his Dad to wish him a Merry Christmas and my son very stubbornly told me that his Dad could call him! I realized my son’s disappointment, hurt and anger and told him just call your Dad, he’s not well and would appreciate it, so he did. I then had to head out to my family for Christmas Day and got things underway for that telling myself it was the last thing in the world I felt like doing, but that I’d get through it. Had another beautiful celebration with my family, still had not heard from Rob and my family too had asked about him. Got home that night and didn’t call Rob either. Unbeknownst to any of us, Rob was probably already gone. Never heard his son’s message or the calls from his Mom so worried.
We didn’t find Rob until Dec. 27th, and even though his death certificate is dated the 27th, I know in my heart it was late Christmas Eve or early Christmas Day that he passed. He had spoken to a friend of ours in the late afternoon on the 24th, but that friend didn’t tell me that until later. Turns out Rob had also spoken to his girlfriend who had dumped him, I too found that out much later, so this was the only timeline we had to go on.
I had asked, almost pleaded and begged Rob not to take his life over the holidays as I knew it would be such a painful reminder each year. Once we found him, I was angry that he couldn’t even give me that, but know too that he was just in such a state of despair, that he felt he couldn’t go on living a moment longer and just couldn’t hold on. I eventually forgave Rob for everything, forgave myself too for having stayed with him so long, and it was at this moment of forgiveness that my anger dissipated. This was not right away mind you, it took me a long time to get over the anger, initially it’s what kept me going, but it was also slowly poisoning me and I knew all along I’d have to let it go. When I consciously chose to let it go, there was huge relief for me and it was also what allowed me to move forward and start the healing process.
So all in all, Christmas has been not a great time of year for me since Rob died. A few years ago, I made another conscious decision to not let Rob and what had happened take Christmas from me anymore. I decided I’d enjoy Christmas for what it was again, a time of laughter, great company and being with the ones I loved.
This Christmas was one of the nicest I can remember. Had a lovely early Christmas visit to my mother-in-law’s home which I’d not been to in years. She lives 2 hours away from me, so for the past many years we celebrated at my sis-in-law’s place which is only 1 hour away, or at a restaurant for a nice lunch. This year the weather cooperated beautifully, no snow on the roads either way which is almost unheard of. Walking into her home, seeing all her Christmas decorations I’d come to love over the years really touched me. My father-in-law passed a few years ago too, so the dynamics had really changed. We had a lovely visit, listened to great Christmas music, played some Trivial Pursuit, just had a lovely time. I thought for a brief moment about Rob and what he was missing, but decided not to dwell on that and just enjoyed the present.
I packed up everything and my son and I drove to my brother’s weekend home about 2 hours east of me on Dec. 24th. Again the roads were totally dry, barely any snow and for Ontario this time of year, that is not the norm. Got down there in good time, spent a lovely evening with my family, watched Eat, Pray, Love and had a nice evening.
Christmas Day I woke up and it was also my Mom’s 81st birthday. She was already up, so I laid there for a little bit and thought of all the things I have to be grateful for. I wished Rob a Merry Christmas out loud and did feel sad for a moment thinking of all he’d missed out on, how proud he’d have been of our son and what a wonderful young man he’s become. I then chose to feel happy, not sad and got up to a chaotic kitchen full of laughter and my brother getting the bird ready. My brother usually has a ton of people, but this year we had only 8 for Christmas dinner. It was lovely having a smaller group, more chance to converse one on one and it was just a beautiful Christmas overall.
I originally had thought when reflecting that I hadn’t accomplished enough, that I was no where near where I thought I would be ten years later. Then I realized how far I had come, how much I’d gone through and processed, that I was much happier than I had been in a long time and even though I didn’t have all the answers, I felt so hopeful, more hopeful than I had in a long time that everything would work out exactly as it should. That was a wonderful feeling!
It’s New Years Eve tonight and I’m heading out to a small house party with friends and family and looking forward to bringing in the new year. I feel it’s a time to start anew, press the “reset” button and really get taking action on what I want for the next year and the rest of my life. I’ve almost been on “hold” for the past many years, it is time to take action, if I want something different, I must do something different – and I will!
My wish for all reading this is that 2011 brings you everything your heart desires. May you have a happy, productive, enjoyable year ahead. For those reading who have lost someone to suicide, I know you’re all grieving and all are in a different place in your journey of healing, but please know that it does get better. Remember to be good to yourselves, be gentle and kind. I wish everyone much peace and healing in 2011.