We used to nickname her pumpkin when she was younger

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm dreaming of a white Christmas

From the time Alysia was born to about the second year I worked in retail, I always prayed for a white Christmas.  Before retail had ruined me for Christmas, I wanted so badly the quintessential Norman Rockwell Christmas.  I wanted the scene to be like Thomas Kinkade's Christmas paintings with snow covered trees, skaters on a pond, warm glowing light streaming from the windows of a cottage in the middle of a quaint town setting.  For weeks I would obsessively check the weather network to see what the forecast was going to be for the week of Christmas.  I would get so mad if it was rain or fog and would get excited if I saw snowflakes.  I recall maybe 2 or 3 Christmases with snow in the past 20 years.  Maybe there were more while I worked in retail but by that point I hated Christmas so much I probably didn't notice.

The few weeks leading up to Christmas this year were horrible.  The anticipation of spending Christmas without Alysia caused me so much sadness, plus there was so much other drama, on top of the grieving process, it was so hard to cope.  I cried often at home, broke down at work a few times and had panic attacks in stores when trying to shop for Christmas.

One day I was at Superstore on Tuesday (student discount day) trying to get supplies for baking.  It was crowded with students and regular shoppers, the baking supplies were wiped out, and Christmas music was blaring.  I was feeling tears building up behind my eyes and that sensation started a panic attack and anger, so I left without most of what I needed and hopped on my bike to go home.  I was so angry and sad I didn't care if I got hit by a car on my bike.  I rode past three "sketchy" looking young men on Brunswick street and thought to myself I didn't care if one of them would jump me and kill me.  I just didn't care.  I wanted Christmas and the drama and the grieving to disappear.  As I rode past these guys, the middle one lifted an arm in my direction and...waved and said "Merry Christmas!" to me.  I said "to you too!" and I laughed at myself and I was angry and I was sad all at the same time.

I assumed these guys were bad and maybe they were any other time but this guy meant his Christmas greeting.  It wasn't sarcastic, it was genuine. The other two guys looked at him confused then looked at me with indifference.  It seemed out of character for him, if the other two guys body language told me right.  I laughed at myself for being so bitter, I laughed at God for pointing out how bitter I was.  I wondered if God touched this guy's heart to do this. I said to God "OK OK I got it." I walked in the door of the apartment and cried on Katie's shoulder for over an hour.

Christmas eve Katie, my mother and I went to Alysia's gravesite to put a wreath for her. It was freezing up there and we were standing in snow so I felt rushed to leave.  I felt horrible that I couldn't truly connect with my grief of Alysia not being with us for Christmas because I was constantly pulled in directions that weren't going towards her. Family drama and the general busy-ness of Christmas kept me away from her.

Christmas day we opened our gifts and then I started to get Christmas dinner ready...again no time for grieving, things needed to get done.  During Christmas dinner I sat  at one point while strained conversation was going on around me and looked out the window onto Brunswick St.  The curtains to our huge windows were open and I wondered when the poor people of the neighborhood walked by, would they feel sad and angry because they weren't sitting around a table of good food and family like what it looked like we were doing in our place.  From the outside, our little gathering would seem so "Norman Rockwell" like.  The Victorian windows, the beautiful tree with the pretty lights would look so "Thomas Kinkade" like.  They wouldn't know about us having lost our daughter-granddaughter, they wouldn't know about the drama. It goes to show how outer appearances are deceiving.

I then thought how I hadn't had time to really feel the absence of my daughter, my beautiful Alysia.  I started to get sad while gazing out the window and then I saw snow flakes coming down so gently, so beautifully.  I felt I was being embraced by Alysia, by God.  I felt like Alysia was giving me a gift of snow I wanted so badly for years upon years. For 5 seconds I was with Alysia and God in a complete state of peace and joy and then I was pulled back to the dinner table.

Today I wrote Alysia a nice long letter in my journal.  I was finally able to connect with her for longer than 5 seconds at a time.  Oddly enough I didn't find myself crying but found myself wishing her a beautiful day and found myself feeling strength and determination to get through the New Year. Things are changing around me and in me. I am a different person now. I have my bitter moments but I refuse to be a bitter character in general. In order to do this I need to weed out some of the negative influences in my life, this is my new year resolution. 

It is sad that Alysia's facebook only has 2 Christmas greetings, one from me and one from Katie.  I know people have been busy.  I've been busy.  It's sad though that this happens. Her dad is not on facebook anymore and Josh was away so I know they couldn't post on her wall. Part of my New Year's resolution to weed out negative things is to not do a Christmas like this next year.  Next year I will be going away, either to Ontario with Katie if we can afford it or just going away somewhere quiet...just Katie and I and Alysia's spirit.

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