Wow another birthday without you here Nige. It just seems unreal. It’s a bittersweet time of year, December. I am a true believer in the joy of Christmas, and last years held little of that emotion for myself and Nige’s loved ones. This year it is so much happier for me, the kids are doing well, I have love in my life again, we have a new house, the wounds are there but not as raw. But they are there. And always will be. The gaps that split open when you least expect it, shedding salty tears.
I always made a big deal about separating Nige’s birthday from Christmas, as he was one of the unfortunate “Birthday near Christmas” sufferers. Decorations, presents, a cake, fussing over him. Now there is a hollow space on the 20th of December. The day Nige was brought into the world back in 1972, quite unaware of the life he was about to lead, the people he would influence. The many friends he would make, the beautiful children he would create. An innocent baby who gave so much joy to his mother over the years. For her to lose him, for any parent to lose a child, is the cruelest thing.
It’s an odd thing when your partner has died and you find new love. There is no messy divorce or breakup, no custody arrangements or new partner to deal with. No anger over the leaving. No jealousy. Dynamics around milestones where you remember the deceased person are scrambled and change. There is a delicate balance between past, present and future which must be honoured.
To the world it probably looks much like I have “moved on” – and I hold no anger towards that phrase, but it just doesn’t feel right. It’s more like my life has taken a giant step sideways, or split, so that two paths wind off now into the distant future. I was very lucky to meet Cory and have his friendship so soon after Nige died, I needed it. I was in a sad, lonely and broken place, and my soul was endlessly tired from what life had thrown at me. It was of course very hard for those close to Nige, which I did feel awful about, but sometimes fate cannot be dissuaded. And we all deserve to be loved and taken care of. Like I said to Cory when we fell in love, I never thought I could love two people in a partnership capacity at the same time, but it turns out it was not only possible, but impossible to ignore.
My kids amaze me more each day. Liam has been through some very tough stuff, but is emerging out the other side as the spectacular kid I knew was there all along. Watch out world. Eva has quietly and determinedly worked through her grief, while caring so much for those around her. A very wise girl for her age. I love them so much.
As many of you will know, we recently moved house. Again, this was bittersweet. Both happy and sad to leave memories behind. Nige would have loved it in Paraparaumu, so close to the beach, the relaxed lifestyle and warm weather. He also lived here for a bit as a child with his mum, in a caravan I believe!
I am so fortunate that Cory understands that the kids, myself, and Nige’s friends and family need to keep pieces of Nige nearby. We have photos and keepsakes in the house, and decorations for Nige on and around the Christmas tree. Nige’s family will always be my family too, we are connected by the past and the future, as Liam, Eva and their cousins grow together. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and either would have Nige I’m sure. It was so important to him that the kids kept that close bond with their cousins.
So the holiday season is upon us, and for many families it can be an odd time of year. Ours is no exception. The joy of celebration, family, food and giving. The sadness as we remember those we miss dearly, or whom we cannot connect with around Christmas. Meshing everything together to create something meaningful in our lives, if only for one day. The ghosts of the past, present, and future at the forefront of our minds as Christmas and the New Year pass by. So much can change in a year. Keep your loved ones close. Live life like there’s no tomorrow. Remember those who have left the world, and be grateful for those who are left in it still. I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas with gusto. For me it means one thing – LOVE. In my mind, that word encapsulates all you need to remember at this time of year. Merry Christmas everyone.
Oh and Happy Birthday Nige – you get your own sentence my dear, as I wouldn’t want to mix it in with Christmas greetings 🙂 I miss you.