We’re doing our own Christmas dinner tonight, before heading east tomorrow. We’ll do a dinner there too, but it’ll be different than the usual family reunion and good cheer. Most of you know why.
I guess a part of me is still in the denial phase. If I don’t go home, if I don’t see, it won’t be true. But it is true, and there’s no more putting it off so I’m going home tomorrow, and then I guess we will see.
The year our parents died we did Christmas in Jamaica – there wasn’t anywhere we knew in Virginia that didn’t advertise their absence, like the seat cushion which retains the form of the last person to sit in it. We thought someplace else would be good, and to tell you the truth we made a brave show of it. But of course we brought our grief along with us, and there were those holes in the line and no one could stop looking at them. And looking away again, but always looking back.
After that we always went home, back to Virginia, there being no running away. After a few years the sadness at the empty places gave way to nostalgic recollections of happier places and times, the things they’d said, how proud we hoped they’d be of the people we’d become. We became philosophical – the clock runs out on everything in time, and no one gets out of here alive. We coped with their loss, like people do. Part of that was staying together, being a family, even if we were scattered to the winds. It was very important to Ann that we all get together every year, at Christmas. That was our gift to her, and her gift to us.
My dad died suddenly, and we thought that was bad because none of us were prepared. My mom took ill just after, I guess the equation was unbalanced. But she took longer, she lingered because although the world didn’t make sense anymore without him in it, a part of her was still a fighter, unsinkable Irish, the lass that wouldn’t give up and wouldn’t give in. It took months for her to go, and and the months took all of her dignity with them and when she left we were secretly relieved, because the person lying there on the bed was not who we remembered. And we thought that was bad too.
After that I think we all thought that we’d gotten a pass. Nothing bad would happen to us or around us for a while, nothing we couldn’t get over.
I guess maybe the pass has run out.
This was her last Christmas, with her replacement.
Don’t know if I’ll be able to post much from over there. Don’t much know if I’ll have the heart for it.
You have all been very kind, and we thank you.