(I didn’t take this picture but I wish I did. Content Warning: gratuitous whining.)
They always say the first holidays after the death of a loved one are the worst. “They” being bloggers and Medium contributors and people offering unsolicited advice. Last Thanksgiving was difficult. I was still in the early battles of grief, alternating between numbness and despair and rage. It was all I could do to get through the holidays, and I was deeply relieved to enter January and be able to pick myself out of the season of merriment and joy and land squarely in the season of isolation and death. That was nice.
Having passed the one year mark and moved forward in life, I had hoped that this holiday season would be better. I had hoped that the happiness that I spent the summer re-capturing would snowball forward into the holidays, and, for a while, it was.
Then I got sick. Really sick. Not, like, “Cancer sick” (that’s probably next year), but sick. Flu symptoms hit me like a truck on Friday and on Monday I was diagnosed with not just Mononucleosis, but Strep too! Happy Holidays everyone!
I’ve never really been one to do “sick”. I’ve always taken after my father, and his father who joined the logging camps at the age of 15, and just buckled down in the face of a mild-moderate illness. Fluids? Rest? Honey? Sure, absolutely, that makes total sense. Whining and self pity and cowering under the covers? Fucking spare me. Get over yourself. Go knock down a tree and blow your nose. I don’t want to hear about it.
In fact, in the past 18 months, I’ve only gotten sick once. I’ve been running on pure adrenaline, cortisol and caffeine.
But not this time. Time for the holidays? Feeling hopeful? Time to get really fucking sick.
So today I’m feeling very sorry for myself. The irony of the situation is hilarious and rage-inducing. While the Strep is slowly clearing with the miracle of penicillin, the Mono will require rest to heal. Rest. Hahahahahaha, “REST”! I don’t “rest”, my friends. As one daycare provider put it, I do not have “quiet children”. I have run-nonstop-and-trash-the-house children. I have brilliant, energetic, vibrant children with wild, sparking eyes. I have children who will likely save the world and kill me in the process.
I’m also missing out on spending time with family and eating my incredible, homemade Maple Bourbon Pecan Pie, because even walking to the kitchen to make a smoothie completely drains me of any energy I have. What. The. Shit.
On a deeper level, I’m experiencing some re-traumatization. When Tim was dying and in the days after his death, my parents and friends took care of the children. Claira was still nursing at the time, and our unexpected separation added another level of pain and despair to the situation. So even though I have incredible parents and a wide network of friends to help me care for my wild ones, I’ve been having flashbacks of the long stretch of time I was unable to care for my children in the aftermath of tragedy.
And, of course, as always, I miss Tim. I miss having a co-parent. I miss having a partner. On the nights that I was waking with night-sweats and chills and fever dreams, I missed having another adult in the house just to make sure everything was ok. I miss his body in my bed (the urn doesn’t do it for me). I miss his comforting voice. I miss snuggling against him and watching SNL on Sunday night, even when the writing is bad. I miss his laugh. I miss his presence. I need him right now. I NEED him. But he’s not here. And that hurts.
So fuck Thanksgiving this year. Fuck everyone else’s happiness. Sure, I have plenty to be Thankful for. Sure, it can always be worse. But this sucks, and I’m just going to sit in it and wallow for a while. Go enjoy your turkey, turkeys.