It’s December and, well, I’m not okay.
I start each day with the best of intentions: I will be more productive, I will be present and mindful, I will bring Ana with me into the new day…
Oh, but I miss her. This is about much more than feeling sad because it’s our first Christmas without Ana. I just realized it today. We’re rapidly approaching winter, the final season of Ana’s life. The snow brought it all back – how she struggled each day to go to school or Rock Academy, how she secretly took oxy because she felt guilty for needing it, how she slept all day (and felt stressed and sad about it), how she was incredibly thirsty. It’s horribly unfair that my clearest memories of Ana are of the moments when she was dying.
And the snow…THE SNOW. She had an insatiable craving for eating the snow. Last winter we didn’t get much of it until February, so (out of desperation) I started shredding ice in Emily’s slushy maker. I’d bring Ana heaping bowls full of shredded ice and sometimes that was all she’d eat for days at a time (in addition to cotton candy milkshakes from Stewart’s).
These memories are like a weight around my heart. It is exhausting to function in and around them. I feel like I’m fighting with my own brain sometimes. It’s THAT hard to concentrate.
Today I stood outside and watched Roo gingerly pick his way across the frozen snow. He was so cute and ridiculous, so of course I cried. I was absolutely stuck (frozen) with the memory of digging through the crusting snow to get to the powdery stuff underneath, scooping it into a mug, and bringing it up to Ana’s room where she’d smile that sweet, grateful smile.
My poor fucking heart. It’s just not fair. I wanted the ending to be different. I want snow to mean something so much simpler–snow days, snowmen, snow angels…That shouldn’t be too much to ask, you know?
But of course we don’t get to write our own endings.
It’s not all darkness and despair. I am enjoying a wonderful time of connection with Emily–her grief isn’t getting in the way of her determination to celebrate the holidays with light, presents, and lots singing. Thank god for her.
I think this is a learning process, this living with grief thing. I want to carry Ana with me into each new day, each new season, and not get stuck (frozen) in the last few months of her life. But I’m balancing both of these things right now. This first Christmas without her, the first snow, the first winter–they’ve shaken the memories loose and so Ana, as she was (Ana ALIVE!) feels so real, so close, but then I remember she’s been gone nearly ten months and that’s when I feel the longing that I’ve managed to control.
That’s when I let my mind drift to a different ending:
What would be on Ana’s 2017 Christmas wish list?
What songs would she be learning to play?
What would her hair look like?
What colleges would she be looking at?
All of these questions are like bright coils of ribbon, unspooling in my mind, creating false paths, trails of longing that lead nowhere, but that’s where I want to be–with the path that leads to Ana and that’s where I feel like I exist…nowhere.
But this is just one day and tomorrow is a new one and eventually the snow will melt.
It’s just so hard sometimes, you know?