This is the one I have been dreading. Last year, his death was only 6 weeks before Christmas and I walked through it in a dazed, numb, fog. I knew I was going to have to face it this year and there was no way around having to feel his absence. I had no one and nothing to distract me from the fact that I am here on this special day without the love of my life and all alone. I hear stories of other widows who have children and family to keep them busy, to shop for, to bake for, to do holiday activities with, to wrap presents for…busy, busy, busy. I have none of that and the thought of making any holiday sweets just makes me sad also. Jesse was the one who was right there helping me with the Almond Roca, the cookies, or the pretzel treats. I could not bear to do any of this alone. The problem with Christmas and being alone is that you not only have to endure one day of misery, but two because Christmas Eve is just as much a holiday to most people. The double whammy of widow misery!
Christmas Eve was not too bad and once I actually reached my destination of the home of some new friends the day went rather well. But the getting there is where the major meltdown occurred. I am on the highway going towards my friend’s home and I see one of “Jesse’s Trucks”, also known as a truck from Freightliner’s test fleet where Jesse was a manager before he got sick. These trucks are very recognizable to me as they have nice new sparkly trucks and the dirtiest, ugliest trailers on the road. I can spot one a mile away, mostly because of the ugly, disgusting trailers. Their cabs say “Product Validation”, so I always know that I am correct when I see one. After seeing one, of course I am thinking of Jesse, then I see another, and another. Oh, great, they are running Hwy 26 today. Seven trucks later going the opposite direction and I am a sobbing mess. I am thinking of him and how much I miss him and how much I want him back, how much I don’t want to face this holiday without him, etc. Luckily my exit is coming up and I can pull off and have good cry not deny my broken heart this opportunity to purge some of the pain. I continue to cry all the way to my friend’s home, where she greets me with a big hug. We speak briefly about my meltdown and then I am done; ready to enjoy a nice quiet day with my new friends and their 16 month old son, which I do.
Christmas day was another storey. I spent the late morning and early afternoon with my elderly FIL and had lunch with him at his assisted living facility. I then headed to the home of a young person whom I am an adopted aunt to. I have been spending time with this young person for over ten years and her family adopted me early on because I didn’t have any family here. When Jesse came into my life, he was adopted too as Uncle Jesse and we spent several Christmas days with this lovely family. My big mistake was attempting to do something (a tradition), that Jesse and I had previously done together, all by myself. The mom had invited me and told me that it would just be them and Grandma. I took that to mean the mom, dad, brother, sister, young person, and grandma. As I am driving to their home, I again start melting down as I think about previous times and how Jesse was always with me. I am again back in that place of just wanting him so desperately to come back to me. I cry most of the way there, thinking about how much I miss him, and how alone I feel. When I arrive, I see several cars and realize that there is probably more of her family here than I am comfortable with, especially in my current tearful state. I knock on the door and get no answer. I can hear jolly, happy, festive people inside and I almost bolt, but I think of my young friend and how much I would like to see her. So I ring the bell and her dad comes to the door and greets me as I am trying to dry my tears and look somewhat human. The mom greets me, then my young friend and I am instantly in tears again, feeling the pain of my missing Jesse. I look around and see some of her extended family who I really don’t know and I tell them that I am going to leave and come back later in the week. The mom, or course being a mom person, does not accept this and is pushing me to stay. I tell her I can’t and then my young friend ends up taking me to her bedroom where I cry and she tries to comfort me, etc. We chat for a little bit and I tell her that I would really be more comfortable coming back later in the week. She is such a bright, lovely young woman. She tells me to do what I need to do and not to worry about her mom. I’m amazed at the maturity of this 18 year old young lady. We exchanged hugs and “I Love You” and I head out of their house with the mom still trying to get me to stay. I left and cried all the way home; thinking about my Jesse, how much I missed him, how much I wanted him back, etc. And I thought about the bottle of wine that is in my fridge. I needed something to numb the pain and that would do it. I got home, popped a frozen dinner in the microwave, popped open the bottle of wine and said “Merry Christmas to me!”