The ghost of Christmas past…


To listen to this post in French, click below″

Joared‘s post, Thanksgiving alone, made me remember all those hurdles that you have to jump when you’ve lost a spouse. I mean someone you loved.
There is the first week, once you’ve survived that, and you do, because you have all this s… you have to go through, insurance, paperwork, bank statement, undertaker and the likes. Then you can trudge on to the following weeks and months.
If you have a child, you start wondering how on earth you are going to make it on your own. You never thought you were going to raise a child on your own!
And then, there is the first Christmas without him, the first New Year’s Eve without him, his first birthday without him, the first Father’s day without him, your first birthday without him, your child’s first birthday without him, and then the first aniversary of his death… I was going to write ‘without him’!
And yet, you survive. Not only do you survive, you live. And after a while, you start living rather happily, sometimes feeling guilty because you are feeling all right. And then you think

what the hell, I am here and he is gone. I might as well live as best as I can.

Roland andJulieYou go through times when you are ANGRY at him. Why did he have to leave you on your own? When you got married, you didn’t bargain for that, all those years on your own, raising a child.
Finally, you realise that when your mother said that there is always something to be gained in anything bad that happens, it has some truth in it. In the last fifteen years without my husband, I have grown up and achieved things on my own. My daughter has grown into a smart and lovely young woman. I am retired and can afford quite a few things thanks to my widow pension. I have faithful friends and relatives that I love.
I have all those things that I enjoy doing, like walking. Walking with my husband was impossible. He was much taller than me so when we walked together, he would walk and I would run! 😉
I got involved in taking photographs and love it. My blogs keep me interested too. And finally my blog reading, all those blogs that I read every day, by those people who have become friends!
Still, Christmas and New Year, the holiday season is the time in the year when I feel that my life is not quite what it could have been.
I have to remind myself that I should look forward and not long for what’s past.

10 thoughts on “The ghost of Christmas past…

  1. Fifteen years….that’s a long time to come to the realizations of what your life is about since your husband’s death Claude. It’s only been one year for me; but your words ring true and carry much meaning for me. As time marches on, I think it’s all in how we decide to look at it. It can be or enemy or it can be our friend. You have a wonderful life and a daughter who has grown into a beautiful adult…I see that time has been your very good friend.

  2. Thanks for the insight. I hadn’t really thought through what it would be like to be without my husband during the holidays and other important days. You help me to appreciate what I have, but also to see how I could go on if I ever lost it!

  3. So many women have been forced to take your path and I am usually impressed with how strong and wise they become. As I am sure you know well, even being surrounded by those who love you, you may not have a happy holiday. Thanks for your strength and have a great new year.

  4. Oh, Claude, I understand what you’ve written about, coping after loss of a spouse. The experience of going through all those special days can lead to feelings and thoughts that are sometimes conflicted, I’ve found. A birthday occurs and I have the feeling I should be doing something, but what?

    Thanksgiving is past, as you noted with reference to my post, but Christmas — I can only imagine what that experience must have been like for you with a small child. This is my first Christmas without my spouse, but I’ve had some family with me. They’ll be leaving soon, so New Year’s day and eve will be quite a different matter. I wonder what that will be like? The house will be unnaturally quiet.

    As you say, living our life forward is what is important whatever the circumstances — easier written than practiced sometimes. What you’ve written has me thinking that I may need to give some more thought to this subject.

  5. A very poignant post, Claude. I think you described all the ups and downs of what it must be like to continue on alone. And I’d have to say…I think you’ve done a great job. Raising a daughter alone couldn’t have been easy….but it’s the end result that counts. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

  6. “Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first and the lesson afterwards.” The sincerity of your post shows you passed the test, and the lessons have become part of your character. I’m in awe of someone who, when life brings heartache, does not turn inward with bitterness, but outward with generosity. You’ve made a difference.

  7. I felt compelled to write a comment, the first one since I returned “home” (nearly 10 months in Toronto and it’s still strange to refer to it as home) after a trip.

    A couple of months ago I expressed my conflicted feelings about where I wanted to be at Christmas to a friend. My (non-practicing but culturally Jewish) husband and I weren’t interested in the celebration of Christmas so much as just having the time together. I didn’t want Christmas “in my face” constantly and said to this friend that maybe I should travel to Tibet or India where Christmas isn’t observed.

    “You can’t run away from it, you know,” she said, “it” being grief. Her comment bothered me inside, but I didn’t know how to explain why without sounding angry, so I said nothing. It was along the lines of my reaction to when someone told me “All pets die, you know, Gail” after our beloved 15-year old cat, Hugh, passed away in July, seven months after David.

    I think it takes a while to adjust to a new reality, to find a balance between the “before” and “after”. People are quick to say things like, “Life goes on” and “Be thankful for what you have” and “Time heals” and all the other clichés in which there is truth but is often delivered without much thought. However, it is one thing to say it and it is another to live through it.

    I find I am drawn to those who have lived through it because there is a tacit understanding of what that entails, while this is conceptually foreign to my thirty-something friends. It is already enough to feel alone without my best friend, but it is even more lonely to feel alone in my own generation.

    The mind goes where it wants, regardless of where you try to direct it, but there’s something to be said for taking it away from the garish Christmas jingles and commercial nature of modern Western holidays and being in an environment where the lifestyle is based on simpler means and priorities.

    While some days it feels impossible to look to the future with the same optimism as before, there is plenty out there to enjoy. I found this idea demonstrated everywhere in Cuba, where the people live with political upheaval and ostensibly very little but the culture is vibrant with music, dance, art, and literature. In terms of food for thought, the country is a veritable feast.

    I enjoy reading your blog, Claude, it has a fine mix of past and present, “here” and “there”, introspection and outlook.

  8. Pingback: Blogging in Paris » Fifteen years

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