This is my second holiday season as a widow. Last year I spent the holidays just trying to get everything done and make sure the boys had everything they needed and that they felt comfortable without their dad. I tried to keep it as “normal” as I could under our circumstances. See last year we were not in our own home. Not only had we lost Pat, but we had to leave our home for six months due to some major construction to the foundation of the house. We spent the holidays in a rental home. We didn’t have access to our Christmas decorations, or anything. We didn’t have lights, or stockings, or anything that made us feel like it was Christmas. We were living out of boxes and in a mess of things. But the holidays come no matter where you are or what state of mind you are in.
I thought I was doing okay. I was getting all the shopping done, staying on top of school parties and making sure Christmas morning was just as it always had been before Pat died…like that was even possible. But I was trying. We always had a breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls for breakfast after opening presents. And we always had spaghetti dinner. I was prepped and ready for the day.
The boys came down and were happy to open presents and give me the gifts they had made. It felt okay. We were doing okay. And then it was time for breakfast. I took all the ingredients out to get cooking but didn’t have a pan to cook it in. We had a house full of rental furniture and dishes and stuff and there was no casserole dish to cook breakfast. This was what broke me. I left the house in search of a store to buy a pan, crying the whole way. I couldn’t do this on my own. I wasn’t cut out for this. I had messed up and ruined Christmas. I ended up at my friend’s house in the neighborhood crying on her couch as she quickly found me a casserole dish to help me out. I was a mess. It pretty much summed up my first Christmas as a widow. I had been shoving down all the pain, and sadness I was feeling just to push through the days with the boys. I was putting on a show for everyone, including myself, that I was doing okay. I wasn’t… What a joke.
So here I am in the middle of my second Christmas season as a widow. We are less than a week away from the big day and all I can say is what a difference a year can make. I don’t feel that agonizing pain and loss. I don’t feel alone and overwhelmed. This year it seems people have gone away, as they do, and so we weren’t pulled in as many directions as we were last year. There weren’t the parties or get-together we use to have to attend. And last year I felt obligated to go to everything and see everyone. I was worried about hurting other people… I’ve gotten over that. Now I worry about the four of us and what we need. So I am sure that has helped me out this year. I can focus on what is most important and that is us being together and making memories together.
Now don’t get me wrong. This is no Norman Rockwell painting here. I do have three boys between the ages of 13 and 10…there is a lot of chaos and fighting going on in this house. But it is something that just is. It isn’t a result of Pat not being here. It’s just the fact that there are three boys filled with testosterone fighting for their place in this house. It just is. We aren’t weighed down this year with the sadness. Yes we miss him. Yes we wish he was here to celebrate and be with us. But that’s not our reality. We can’t live like it is. I am glad that we aren’t . We are all trying to turn the page and start living forward. We have started to make new traditions. We are changing some of the old traditions too. It is a part of becoming the new us. The Mahoney 5 is gone in the physical sense and so we can’t expect everything else to stay the same too. We have created our new family and our new way of being. It has brought new challenges, but it has also brought us new happiness.
I think that this year is better because the fog has lifted. I don’t feel that weight holding me down. I can see where I am headed and I know we will figure it all out. Each day is still a struggle, but it is not the same struggle as it was last year. Now it is more of the struggle to raise these boys and help them to succeed in life. Parenting alone is the struggle this year…not the holidays.
So as the days bring us closer to celebrating Christmas, I am hoping that I truly am doing Okay this year. I am hoping that this year will not end up as a rerun of last year. I don’t feel as though it will. But hey, this widowhood thing always has a surprise waiting around the corner and sometimes you just don’t know what is coming your way. I am just going to try to keep on moving in the right direction and pray for a peaceful, Merry Christmas.