Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Here we go again. I’d rather Christmas didn’t exist. If it were up to me, I’d stay in bed from Christmas Eve until lunchtime on Boxing Day. Actually, I’d rather be somewhere warm, sunny, and non-Christian so that I didn’t have to even notice that Christmas was even happening.

This year, as with the last two years since losing Al, I’ve felt pressured into doing something for my youngest’s sake. I’d already decided that I couldn’t cope with another Christmas Day at my brother’s place when no one would even acknowledge Al or my grief. Anyway, that decision has been taken already as we haven’t been invited. On the one hand, it’s a massive relief to not have to turn the invitation down – but a letdown that it seems that we are now considered to be sufficiently ‘over it’ that we can cope without any kind of support on the day.
Instead, we are eating out at a local Indian restaurant with the new man in my life. We seem to have developed a bond rather quickly. But then we share an experience that not many others have. Nineteen years ago, his eldest son died a week after being run over. He was just eleven years old.
We do talk about our boys but they don’t dominate our conversations. Instead, it seems to be enough that we both ‘get it’. Having that shared understanding makes it easier somehow.

He dances – rather well actually. I don’t – well I didn’t until a few weeks ago when I asked him to teach me – Ok I still don’t but I am progressing – albeit very slowly – and now only have two left feet instead of the two and a half I started out with. It’s fun – and as I’m lighter these days, far easier than I anticipated. We laugh a lot together. It’s a relief to be able to do that. I know I physically weigh less these days but I feel emotionally lighter too – less burdened/weighted down by my woes. They’re still there but they don’t feel as heavy as they did.
I still have my low days – I spent a couple of days close to tears last week. But then, when I think about it, a year ago, I couldn’t make it through a single day without sobbing at some point so I guess I’m making progress. What tends to prick my eyelids these days is feeling happy and knowing that Al would be glad for me – and feeling sad that he isn’t here to say as much. 

Anyway, Indian food on Christmas Day – we always ate at home on Christmas Day. And it was usually Chinese food or the traditional Christmas lunch. Eating out at an Indian restaurant is different enough to make it OK. I’m not ready (not sure I’ll ever be) to return to any of our old traditions and think I need to create some new ones. This is a start.
I’d give anything to be eating with Al on Christmas Day though.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Al's birthday - part 2

At 10pm on Al’s birthday, my youngest opened the back door for me to take out a couple of sky lanterns. At the same time, another bereaved Mum was releasing some in Yorkshire for her lad – our boys shared the same birthday.

The wind was pretty strong and kept blowing out the flame on the lighter so I brought the lantern indoors just until I could get the wick lit. Eventually, we managed to light it and get the lantern to start rising. At this point, we took it outside whereupon the wind ripped it from our hands and whisked it round the side, and then in front of the house. I could see the light flickering and shouted, “Oh bloody hell, I hope it’s not on the car.” We raced round and found it attached to the front door handle. I managed to release it, the wind again grabbed it, and it shot up above the house. Relieved, we stood and watched as it moved upwards. Finally, a poignant moment!
A poignant moment indeed - right up to around three seconds later when the wind made it swoop down towards the road causing two community Bobbies to stop suddenly in their tracks as it shot past narrowly missing them. They stood, rooted to the spot, transfixed by the sight of the lantern that was now heading over some rooftops.

In a tone reminiscent of Basil Fawlty’s “Don’t mention the war – I said it once but I think I got away with it,” I muttered to my daughter, “Back up – I don’t think they’ve noticed us.” We slowly backed out of sight and escaped back round the back of the house.

As we got back to the kitchen we fell about laughing as we both realised that Al would have been crying with laughter if he’d seen that.  

It seems strange that we can laugh about something connected to Al’s death – but I’m so glad we can.