Lately, I’ve been caught up in the whole commercialized Christmas, which has been a big change for me. It’s been a few years since I’ve actually felt like celebrating the holiday. It all started four years ago when my Dad passed. Since then, I’d been unable to get out of my Grinch-like funk.
The first year he was gone, the Christmas tree I had was taken down before December 25 even arrived. I felt so guilty celebrating when my Dad would never see another Christmas again.
The following year, I convinced myself I didn’t need a tree and the year after that, I only put one up because my ex and I were hosting my family for dinner and my sister insisted we have a tree.
This year I allowed myself to get caught up in the magic I once believed actually existed around Christmas – the lights, the big, beautiful tree, the ornaments, the presents, the Christmas outings – I even caught myself singing that hideously addictive yet horribly annoying All I want for Christmas song. Thanks Mariah.
For the first time in a long time, it almost felt like it had growing up. Magical. Perfect.
Then today when I heard Joe Cocker died, all of the Christmas excitement and joy I felt immediately dissipated and I missed my Dad. A lot.
The grief I’d managed to bury for so long came back like a tsunami and I was completely overwhelmed, so much so that I actually felt like a beach ball had inflated in my throat and for a few moments, I couldn’t catch my breath. Tears spilled down my cheeks and I felt as though I were literally drowning.
My Dad always told me how when I was a baby and couldn’t sleep, he’d play ‘our’ song, sing it softly to me and rock me back to sleep. “Worked like a charm every time, babes.” I can almost hear him saying it.
|My handsome Dad as a young police cadet at Christmas.
Even up until he passed when I was 24, he’d occasionally call me and leave me a voicemail when he’d heard ‘you are so beautiful’ on the radio. His voice would be cracking without fail every time, as though he had just relived a precious memory. I suppose in many ways, he had.
I’ve not listened to the song for years – I just couldn’t. By the time the first few piano notes were played, I’d be hysterical, frantically trying to catch my breath and all the while wishing my Dad were singing it to me. I know he never will again.
Foolishly, I looked the song up on YouTube after I read the news, which only made me more emotional. The song still had the same effect – it made me sad (read: I bawled my frickin’ eyes out) – I just miss my Dad terribly.
The Christmas joy I finally found has been weighted down by the fact that I know the one thing I want more than anything, I will never again have – time with my Dad.
That’s not to say I’m not grateful or appreciative for what’s to come this Christmas – I’m in a great relationship, I’m living in a city I’ve always dreamed of being in and I’m on the ice again. I have my health, I have my family, I have my friends. But all of that does little to comfort me today.
It’s been four years yet it feels like yesterday in many ways – the idiotic move of playing that song reaffirmed to me I’m far from “over” losing him.
While I’d give anything and everything under my tree to have just a few more moments with him, I know he’d be upset with me for not appreciating what I do have, even if he can’t physically be here to share it with me.
So, I’ll try my best to think positively, be grateful and take comfort in the memories we did have – they’re more valuable to me than anything on my wish list.
And, if I need to cry, I’ll give myself permission to. It’s not all bad, I suppose – my cheeks get a little rosy after a good sob fest and who couldn’t use a little extra colour this gloomy time of year?
How do you cope with grief during the holidays?