It’s been a little over four months. Somehow it feels like a lifetime ago, maybe because those four months were the craziest of my entire life and time has flown faster than I ever could have imagined. I still think of Shane every day, but my good days now outnumber the bad ones. I choose to now live my life with fullness and remember him with happiness instead of constantly dwelling on the fact that he’s gone. Because he’s not really gone; he’s just somewhere else.
But honestly I have been dreading this time of year, and now it’s upon us. I know I’m not the only one heading into the holidays with a sense of bittersweetness. Many have dealt with loss in their lives and the holidays can be a particularly triggering time of year. And with the addition of winter being a generally depressive season, it can wreak havoc on our mental states. But, while difficult to handle at times, it doesn’t have to be a certainty.
Thanksgiving turned out to be okay. I took an overnight trip to Asheville to spend it with Shane’s uncle and aunt. It was nice to get away for a bit and just experience the beauty of the mountains. I was nervous driving up there though. The last time I’d been, it was with Shane. We often took trips there to see his family, go to a concert, and just barhop around the city. It was a place we shared, and we had our favorite spots that we’d revisit over and over. I didn’t know how I’d be emotionally on this trip. But on Thanksgiving day, we sat outside by the fire, toasted to Shane and reminisced over beer and music. We felt his presence there for sure, which was comforting.
The next day we went on an awesome hike through the mountains, then spent an hour in the record store (of course I spend entirely too much money, but worth it!). Afterwards I stopped by the restaurant my friend was working at that day for some pizza and beer, and to catch up with her. Before I knew it, my overnight trip was over and I had to head home. I was feeling relieved that I got through the whole trip without losing it, and then of course I jinxed myself. Much of the ride home involved me crying and listening to our shared music. As much as I enjoyed my trip to Asheville, at that moment I felt overwhelmed with emotion at his absence for those two days. I know it will get easier. I just had to get through that first time.
Christmas is now right around the corner, and I think this one is going to be harder. It was one of his favorite holidays. I keep thinking that this was going to be our first Christmas living together. We would only have to buy one tree that would include both of our sets of ornaments. We’d take turns yelling at the cats to stop drinking the water/climbing the tree/batting the ornaments. I’d decorate the outside with lights while he stayed inside drinking spiked eggnog. We’d cook our Korean Christmas eve meal, then watch Christmas movies all night.
Instead, this year will be very different. I enjoy Christmas as well, so I’m going to try to do all the things that still bring me joy. My mom will be coming up, so she and I will celebrate together. I’ll spend the time leading up to it like I always do; baking cookies, watching Christmas movies, decorating inside and outside, getting and decorating my tree and spending time with friends. I will certainly have my emotional moments throughout, but I will get through them like I always do. I don’t think Shane would want me to spend the holiday depressed. In fact, I think he would want me to celebrate the fuck out of this Christmas and have some spiked eggnog in his honor.
As we enter this season, do the things that bring you joy. And be sure to cherish your loved ones and remember those not with us anymore. Do something you know they would have enjoyed as well. Embrace your moments of sadness, but more importantly, find your moments of happiness, because you know that’s what they would want for you.