The long list of phrases going through my head these days are simple variations on a theme: “This has been a really hard year.”
Even with glimmers of things looking up, there are plenty of days still where I’m not sure I’ve made it out of – or will make it out of – the basement of my soul. Staying positive is an often hourly battle, and I’m not ashamed to say one I lose more often than win.
Oh, there’ve been high points. SG coming home for visits. Meeting SG in Vegas. Good times with my family and the kindness of friends. Farm-sitting back when I could still walk.
Right now I’m stringing along moment by moment, trying not to feel selfish for feeling so shitty. After all, there are lots of people who have it worse than I, of course there are. I’ll just keep reminding myself off that while silent tears drip off the end of my nose into this giant vat of holiday booze I plan on drowning my sorrows in.
I miss my brother. I will always miss my brother. December, the month he died and the time of year we always planned to spend time together, is really fucking hard. In Ken I lost someone I knew in such a unique way. A sibling knows your childhood, unlike a spouse, and knows many aspects of your teen and adult years you haven’t necessarily wanted to share with your parents. Not only do they know your best and worst, they know the evolution of your best and worst, all of your incarnations. Ken was one of the few people I was never afraid to have witness a really ugly cry, the person I could count on to be mad right along with me when I felt hurt by someone else, the person I could call any time day or night for solace, advice, or a ride home. In fact, I can’t remember a time when I called him in the middle of some personal crisis when he didn’t immediately offer to come over. Since he’s been gone and the many ways he touched my life become more apparent I can only hope that I was that person for him too. If life without him is lonely, Christmas without him is a giant sucking hole of loss. My kids miss him most especially at Christmas too. He never lost that sense of being a kid, and every Christmas he was on a mission to find *the* gift for my kids, the one that would be their favorite gift of all. The excitement and joy they felt when opening their gifts was a reflection of what he himself was experiencing. Though it isn’t hard to reach “favored uncle” status when you’re the only uncle, I think he would have been at the top of the list even if we’d had other brothers and sisters to grow up with.
I miss my husband. The thought of waking up to an empty house Christmas morning is getting to me in a way that I’m not terribly proud of. I know I’m being selfish. I know I’m not the only person to have ever been alone on Christmas. Unlike SG, at least I can go hang out with my parents, and the kids’ dad has even generously offered a spot for me at his Christmas celebration. SG, on the other hand, will be hanging around a nuke plant on the far eastern end of Nebraska, which I imagine will probably feel a lot like being alone on the moon except with cows and corn and soybeans. The fact that I’m not the only person who will be alone and lonely at Christmas does not make me feel better, no matter how many times I tell myself it ought to. It feels especially rotten when I rub the salt over him also missing my birthday into the wound. As it turns out, even if you protest to everyone how stupid it is to have birthdays when you’re my age, the moment SG isn’t here to bake me a cake it suddenly becomes the most super special thing in the world to turn 49.
All sarcasm aside, the hardest thing of all has been coping with my stupid treasonous aging body and days upon days upon days of pain and the inability to walk or ride or lift anything. I had to send my horses to Michelle’s until SG comes home; I was no longer able to care for them. I’ve had more injections in my spine and hip, and I’m back in physical therapy – but after a couple of rounds of being so let down after I thought I was doing better I’m hesitant to believe or even hope that my worst days are behind me. I’d like to go back in time and deliver a stinging smack to my own face for every occasion I’ve arrogantly stated “I wouldn’t change a thing about my life!” OH HELL YES I WOULD. I would have taken better care of myself. I would have listened to the people who cautioned me to eat better, exercise more, be less reckless, not play or ride injured. I’d have bought a better mattress, better shoes and engaged in better self-care. Maybe I would still have had some arthritis and some degeneration in my spine regardless – its not like my anatomy didn’t have the best building blocks to begin with. But if I’d done a better job taking care of myself I’d be a lot closer to better than I am right now. Having only myself to blame makes me feel not one whit better.
When midnight finally strikes on the first day of 2015 I for one will kick 2014 in the ass with savage vengeance. With my luck, it will kick me back.