Merry Grinchmas

My first Christmas with grief
was a mere three months after Paul passed away.
I didn’t even have time to prepare,
I didn’t even know such a thing was impossible yet then-
the pain was palpable,
cold and on the surface,
the loss starting to etch itself in my eyes and skin.
I barely remember it, though I do remember drinking my way through it
and at one point booking a tarot card reading. I recall that the reader said
“you’re trying your best to celebrate but you’re depressed”
to which I replied
no shit.
I went to have dinner at his parent’s house on the 25th.
His mom was sick and after saying a cordial hello,
spent the rest of the evening upstairs in her bedroom.
I didn’t blame her.
It was unbearable to try to celebrate without him there.

My second Christmas with grief was better.
Mainly because I decided to skip the whole thing all together.
I didn’t send anyone any gifts. No christmas cards. I wished everyone a merry grinchmas and allowed myself the freedom to do as I pleased with my feelings.
The only celebration was an intimate Christmas day spent with my then-
roommate and her immediate family and her boyfriend in Fort Collins.
Christmas morning I woke up to snow and tears.
Merry White Griefmas.
But they didn’t last all day, the snow and tears- and they didn’t keep me from getting dressed and playing white elephant for the first time with everyone else around the Christmas tree.
I felt loved.
It was nice.
But it all was still heavy. To me, anyways.
Probably because I was sad and sadness weighs a ton.
The thing about holidays is that they make the loss feel fresh all over again,
it’s like the scars are picked by the fingertips of
each encounter forced upon you,
each table you sit at surrounded by couples and family members,
and then there’s that damn empty chair beside you,
the thought of the perfect gift you would’ve gotten him this year,
the memory of your very own christmas tradition you had created together-
brunch with a lot of Champagne and just a little bit of Santa,
just to say you celebrated it properly,
a balanced holiday affair,
if you will;
Fresh tears and blood start to flow with
each christmas card that arrives,
joy and love so clearly stamped on your friends’ faces
it’s so awful and conflicting
to feel so happy for them
and so sad
for me.
Self pity comes easy then. Automatically, even.
But that was my second Christmas with grief.

My third Christmas with grief was 4 days ago.
I spent Christmas eve at his parent’s house, with his immediate family and growing parts on his brother’s side.
His mom and I were in high spirits.
We spent the day cooking up a feast and she ordered a special riesling
to go with dinner and she even baked a pie from scratch!
The house was decorated with wreaths, the Christmas tree hung with vintage, curated ornaments his parents purchased in different parts of the world,
shelled nuts ready to be cracked near the fireplace…
it was the image of a Scheffler Christmas.
It may have been missing my favorite Scheffler of all, but there was joy
in that house that night,
and it felt good to be able to actually feel a bit of that infamous holiday spirit again.
But no one talked about him.
We didn’t want to remember his death on Christmas eve or day.
The afternoon and evening of Christmas was reserved for a close group of friends, a night spent drinking and eating, surrounded by good people.
I came home around 10:30 pm.
I was starting to feel worn out from all the holly jolly,
I could feel the sadness starting to seep through…

On the 26th, when my third Christmas with grief was supposed to be over,
that’s when the pain hit.
that’s when the loss refused to be pushed aside any longer,
that’s when it took over,
the wave I have come to know so well, knocking me down,
bending my body forwards,
making my bones heavy
and cold.

The next three days were a blur of takeout, hot tub dips, wine and beer, absolutely no exercise and 12 hours of sleep each night.
For dinner one night I ate a 12 inch pizza, 8 chocolate chip cookies,and half a pint of ice-cream.
I was desperately trying to make myself feel better, instinctively, in any small way I knew how.
I couldn’t talk to anyone.
I couldn’t deal with anything.
I felt exhausted and sad and fat and
alone.

Then, on the 29th,
I woke up and noticed I didn’t immediately dread
the fact that I was alive.
I fed myself a healthy breakfast and sang some songs
and worked on the book, and took some pictures
to remind myself that I’m beautiful,
and cleaned out my closet, vacuumed the carpets,
drank a green juice for my afternoon snack,
witnessed a sunset from the hot tub
and thanked the heavens
that the holidays were almost over
and that today,
I was feeling better.
That meant the wave was passing,
the worst had been felt,
there was lightness of being to look forward to again.

It’s not that my third griefmas was easier than the ones prior,
it was just that the days of sadness were fewer than those of happiness
and when grief hit, I knew
it was just another wave I had to ride through.
By then, I guess you could say,
I had a bit of experience
with grieving during the holidays.

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planting sunflowers

He was enough
just the way he was
the day he helped me plant my first sunflower
and as if speaking to the child inside me
he told me to not be scared for the worms
as I dug my shovel into the clumps of soil,
putting all their lives in peril.

And I remember smiling at the fact that
we could yell at each other
and then spend the rest of the day’s light
playing in the dirt
together.

Lovely

“What planet are you from?” He asked, grunting in between breaths.

She smiled cooly, timing her hips to the rhythm of her words, as she answered almost in meow form: “The same one you’re in now.” Lowering her chest slowly against his, she turned her lips into his neck as she whispered “Welcome,” leaving a trail of kisses behind on his skin.

That’s who she was. At least sometimes. And Lord knows she needed nights like these. She was, after all, a great performer. And like any performer, sometimes she needed a stage. Slithering against his body, licking his shoulders, neck, thighs… She knew how to move, knew how to push his buttons and how to hold the sole undivided attention of her audience. In fact, she thought, she never had a problem getting a standing ovation. The thought made her laugh and think of how clever she was. Then, sitting there, laughing out loud alone, she thought of how dorky she was also.

Alone on the couch on a saturday night, she sat eating Trader Joe’s boxed pizza and drinking a great glass of Tempranillo wine, thinking of him and last night.

Sure, she was a sex kitten- but she was also a marching band nerd. She liked to think it was all part of her magic, to be such opposing things all at once- to be adaptable, fluid in the flow of life. Nothing was black and white. No, not to her. There were colors that perhaps sometimes only she could see. And inside, her beating heart ached for the weak, the poor, the sick, and she absorbed their pain as if it were her own, as if it in a mud bath- it all just seeped right into her skin, down to her soul and bones. So when the newspaper came, she learned early on to skip right to the comics. She needed fantasy because reality was at times just too much. She wasn’t dumb, by no means; she had more scholarly merit than she’d care to speak of. It made her uncomfortable to boast. “Let who I am speak for itself,” she thought. She read people well, and figured they’d be able to do the same right back to her. But maybe they couldn’t and maybe that was her gift. In the dark, she could transform into the woman he needed, before he even knew exactly who that was.

But tonight who she needed to be was the girl with the night off and no plans, except to maybe polish off that boxed pizza and maybe finish that bottle of wine. Why, she had never done that before!

Looking at the city below, seeing the cool weather wrap itself around the clouds, she searched the sky for hummingbirds. She needed frivolous beauty tonight; to see strength and fragility combined; she needed to grow wings and fly, because her imagination was too big for this simple kind of life. She needed nights like this. Because sometimes the fuze in her kitchen-in-a-closet blew if she tried to cook two things at once, and not too long ago, all she could afford to eat was green lentils. That $4.95 pizza and $10 bottle of wine were a luxury. No one else but her knew that tonight. No one else but her felt privileged with this meal.

And as hard as life sometimes got, it would never change her mind: Life was beautiful. She was blessed. She had enough, and enough was plenty. When these thoughts flooded her head, she was glad to be alone, sitting and writing in the dark, while occasionally peeping to see the skyline ahead. She wouldn’t want to prove her theory to anyone tonight, or to argue with a pessimist about the beauty in life. Alone, her theory stood as absolute truth. Satisfied with her train of thought, she reclined back, listening to music she thought was cool, until she traveled so far into her mind that she forgot who and where she was.

“Lovely,” she thought.

No Reason At All

You said: “Every woman deserves to get flowers”

Handing me a bouquet

For no reason at all

And that night, I stood back and watched you cook my favorite Spanish food

For no reason at all

Then you stood in my kitchen,

Gently holding my face between your strong hands and said “I just have to kiss you”

For no reason at all

 

I didn’t mind it. I don’t need a life of logic.

Been living in the moment, and as I woke up this morning,

I wished you were still here

watching shadows dance with me

For no reason at all.

Public Transportation

Feels like I’m moving backwards

Sitting here in this bus,

Just another passenger

I can’t tell you how my heart beats

I wish I could hand it to you so you could feel

Every low, rumbling thump

Every quick paced, rushed drum

If this seat could talk

It would tell you I’ve written some of my best words,

cried my most defining tears

On these here seats of public transportation

 

Old friend,

I’m not going backwards

I’m just moving slowly

And I’m writing my best work

Here, on the seats of this bus.