Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer
Life After Emilee Logo | Neal Klein honoring his wife after losing her to pancreatic cancer

The First Year Without Emilee On The Holidays

I guess between the elves and fairies and some help from the angels, the star is now lit

Image may contain: christmas tree and indoor

I guess between the elves and fairies and some help from the angels, the star is now lit.

So, some words about the struggle whether to put up a tree or not, and whether or not to decorate outside with lights.

The lights outside was the first decision. I like the lights outside, and although I complained about doing them, I liked seeing them and I still think all the outside lights are pretty, and love looking at all of them. That decision was not so difficult. I decided I would alter the way I would do the lights, but I was definitely getting that done. I also paid someone to do the roof lights.

Now the tree. For days I debated. I finally decided that I needed a smaller tree and went and got one, with lights attached. Now I had to do what I had always left to Emilee to do, decorate the tree. I learned, I figured out what order to put the various decorations on the tree. I also decided I was doing different ornaments this year. Mostly material ornaments that I found at a craft show, and had more made for me. They are all hearts, with quilt-like designs, just like something Emilee would have made. I really love the way it came out.

The inside decorations, I did a few, but just some of the windowsills and a couple on the kitchen island.

Then there was Christmas eve and day. Day was pretty set at going to my step-daughter’s family’s house. But Christmas eve did not really get figured out until Christmas eve. I did a short family stop at my stepson and daughter-in-law’s, a slightly longer stop at my stepdaughter’s in laws for dinner, and then joined my mother-in-law for a 7 p.m. service at the church where Emilee used to attend and where her funeral service was. Good decision.

We sang some hymns and carols and I just love to do that on Christmas. Then, the pastor’s short talk spoke right to my heart, about seeing the magic in the everyday things, not just at Christmas. And so, I truly enjoyed the day, and managed to fill my heart with joy and love instead of sadness and melancholy. A pretty good feat for which I am very grateful.

It is like the line of the song…it came upon the midnight clear…it came upon me while driving several days before Christmas eve, that I did not want “sad” to be my theme this year. I thought about Mimi and how she figured creative ways to give the grandchildren a bunch of single dollar bills, and decided I was going to do something too. I never got that totally off the ground but it worked out just the same, and remembering her tricks made me smile and laugh. I had gifts for everyone also. Not as elaborate or over the top, but I got it done.

Our anniversary was on the 22nd. Just before that I went to see my grandchildren on Long Island because they were going away for Christmas, and wanted to give them presents before hand. And leaving them was sad, as it usually is. And leaving a Christmas party from my poetry group was difficult. But leaving my meditation group’s dinner gathering was not, because it felt like a family that I was coming back to in a few weeks. Loss of companionship, loss, loss of feeling surrounded and included and then back to solitude, sometimes it is overwhelmingly, achingly sad and lonely, and sometimes I am just fine coming back to my solitude. And so it is nice to know it doesn’t always have to ache so badly.

Having gone to see my grandchildren was a good thing. It always is, but especially now. It really tempered some of the melancholy. My anniversary day was a bit on the tough side. But I got her a pair of butterfly earings, and I set up a bunch of cards that she had saved that she liked, and I lit some tea lights, and I got an anniversary balloon, and even though my emotions were like ocean swells, I was okay with it and let the waves come and let them go. Meditation helps with the emotions, not getting stuck.

I am making the holidays in my image, keeping Emilee’s memory alive and yet finding my way with all the decisions. It is not easy. But I am doing my best to stay present, and to keep coming back to the present when I find myself wandering elsewhere. I am grateful to be able to share in the joy of giving, and am finding joy in learning how to be me as a responsible adult without a partner that takes care of all the holiday tasks. Not easy, but I can breathe a little more easily knowing I did not shirk my tasks using grief as an excuse this year. I am doing the best I can, and that helps me sleep a little easier at night.

This is Neal Harvey….good day!!

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