My last Christmas picture with my mom. 2009 at my work Holiday Party.
Last year was the first Christmas without my mom alive. I had moved to San Diego and flew back to the East Coast for about a week to spend time with family for what I knew was going to be a tough holiday for us. Although the year of "firsts" is painful, the shock of her death, at least for me, was still very much a factor last year. There was a lot of numbness, as I will still undergoing the different stages of grief. The death of my mother was unexpected and came without much warning. I went from having an argument with my mom one day to sitting by her bedside in the hospital as she took her last breath several days later. We had no idea, none at all, that 2011 would or even could be our last Christmas with her.
So Christmas 2012 was all about it "being the first Christmas without Mom." The numbness still wearing off, coupled with the pressure of trying to make it a good Christmas despite the empty chair at our dinner table, meant the utter pain was not as evident. It was masked. We all tried extra hard to feel the love she created every Christmas.
But this year, this Christmas... I feel double the amount of pain as last year. I'm no longer numb. I could feel the deep, pulsating pain as it started creeping in around Thanksgiving. I could start to sense it in my other family members too. My parents' house went undecorated. The Christmas tree remained unlit. The Spirit of Christmas was nowhere to be found and every time "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" found its way onto the radio, I found myself rolling my eyes.
I tried to feel the Magic. I tried to get excited thinking about candy canes and snowflakes and stockings hung up. But, well, there were no candy canes, snowflakes, or stockings this year. My mom was the Spirit of Christmas. She was the one to decorate the house so magically, to dress up the presents with perfect ribbons and bows and to get the family all excited for spending the holiday together. As much as I've tried to keep them going, I've seen the traditions fade away this year. I've felt the pain with every mention of "Christmas." It's a shame, but it's the truth and that's why I'm writing about it here today.
Because I know that there are other people out there, some which I know personally and some that are strangers who are feeling this same pain that I write about. They know deep down, aside from all of the fluff and positive talk that nothing will replace the void that is felt while looking at the empty chair at the table and seeing the bare spot under the tree where her presents once were placed.
Part of my heart will forever be hollow all year, but during this time especially. I know that one day, with my own children, my heart will be filled in a different way. But nothing, nothing at all, will ever erase the pain of not having my sweet mom on Christmas.
She is missed.