I can’t tell you how I felt the first Christmas after the death of Anne and Paul. I don’t remember. I was too numb. All I know is that we avoided Christmas or escaped as often as we could. It just wasn’t the same joyful time of kids’ laughter and celebration without them. How can you sit there cheerfully around the Christmas tree with two children missing? I’m sure we shared the occasion in some fashion because our survivor Paul still had to have a Christmas but it was painful, not joyful.
I have escaped Christmas at home so many times since that day and have travelled again this year. It has been many, many years since I have put up a Christmas tree. What would be the point? It doesn’t hurt as much now but the Christmas spirit I had when I had a family is now dead. If I had been able to escape the minute the Christmas carols and all the seasonal commercialism began, I would have done so, only to return when it was over.
A few times I remained to participate in family Christmas, mostly with my sister who lives in the same city as I do. We had a festive meal for a few hours, opened some gifts and that was it. No long, merry parties. More often I have joined other groups for potlucks around the season, usually people who are alone like me. I remember the years I chose to work so colleagues could take time off with their families. Some years we had four consecutive days off at Christmas. It was a terribly long, lonely stretch when I would watch a lot of television and wish I could work or find some other distraction.
I never go back to join my brothers who live in Sudbury. Christmas is a time to celebrate with family. I just don’t want to be there with all my siblings who are surrounded by their families while I feel very alone because my family is gone.
As I sit here on the Malaccan in Puerto Vallarta, this December 2015, the waves are crashing against the seawall. I am reflecting on a Christmas that my son Paul, my husband and myself spent after the loss of Anne and Adam. We were here in Nuevo Vallarta for the two weeks of the Christmas holiday. I was watching Paul like a hawk as he swam in the rough waves. I would not take my eyes off of his bobbing head because it was difficult to relocate him if I did. He was very good at handling the big waves and helping other boys get past them with their kayaks so they could paddle freely. Such memories are vivid, beautiful, and painful.
It does not feel like Christmas here in the tropical climate. There is no commercialism, hardly any decorations, no Christmas music playing, no snow or cold or Christmas trees. For me Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Christ. I will attend church and spend the rest of the day on the beach.
It is not as painful as it used to be, because I make it so.
Merry Christmas to all, especially to those who are suffering.