September 28th, 2011 changed my life completely, and forever.  I wasn’t with her when she slipped away, but my Dad was, as he should have been, just as she wanted it.

What I’ve learned so far from this process, is that it’s very personal, and the nuts and bolts of it is different for each person experiencing it.  I have also realized that after the initial period of darkness, and you can get back into some sense of normal routine, the grief will still sneak up on you and slap you down when you least expect it.  When this happens, I’ve found it best to just go with it.  Stop the task at hand and just….feel.  Sometimes I will whither and sob for half an hour, sometimes it will only last a minute or so.  Sometimes the feeling of sadness will continue for the rest of the day, and sometimes it will be replaced with happy remembrance.

Thanksgiving was tolerable.  We had 14 people in our house so there were plenty of distractions.  No one talked about the space unfilled.  We didn’t toast to her.  I don’t know why.  Maybe because we were just enjoying each other’s company and we didn’t want to be sad.  It wasn’t until that night that her absence sunk in and I needed to let the waves of emotion  roll over me.

As Christmas approaches, I have had more frequent emotional experiences, for obvious reasons.  Mom LOVED Christmas.  Giving gifts was quite possibly her favorite thing, ever.  Every year, I begged her to cool it on the amount of gifts she bought for my kids, and every year, she ignored me.  Every year, I begged her to not buy gifts for Craig and I, and every year, she ignored me.  Stockings?  Good gravy, that woman could find the most random stocking stuffers.  [See here for a post on “Christmas Stuff” from last year]  We’ve had single chocolate truffles wrapped in wrapping paper, soaps in the shape of Christmas-y things, small plastic reindeer that “pooped” out jelly beans, and the traditional comic books.  My kids would receive stockings (separate from the ones they have at our house) literally stuffed with little things.  She even brought stockings for Craig and I.  Last year, I got a mini-bottle of Sauvignon Blanc.  I mean, that was awesome, but totally unnecessary.  The long and short of Christmas is, it was my Mom’s most favorite time of year.  I know she got so much pleasure out of shopping for everyone and thinking about the moment we would open the gift and ooh and aah over it.

This year, Christmas will feel much more empty, quiet.  The stockings won’t be nearly as fat.  The number of colorful packages under the tree won’t be nearly as much.  It’s what I kept asking for, but I didn’t want to gain it this way.

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