Christmas Day, 2019
Well, here’s a letter I never thought I’d be writing. It’s Christmas day, 3-1/2 months after your death. It still feels like it was yesterday. I really do my best not to think about it, you not being on the other side of the house any more. I distract myself like crazy, but still…those wee hours of the morning are a real bitch.
I almost found myself watching a Hallmark Christmas movie last night. Almost. I still have standards, you know. Can’t do it. I also can’t ever delete your Netflix or Hulu profiles, though I may some day go into them and watch some things you liked. Today’s not that day, though.
I still can’t pee with the bathroom door open, though I have the house to myself. I still keep my bedroom door shut when I’m changing clothes. I still find myself constantly turning the music down. I go into your room, expecting to see you in there, but your recliner isn’t even there any more. I sold it. Now your room is just stuff I need to sell.
Thanksgiving. And now Christmas. A few years ago, it was the first holidays without Dad. Now it’s the first without you. This hits way harder for some reason. Probably because I’ve been here since Dave’s death. And I watched you struggle the entire time since. I don’t think you ever really understood my social anxiety, but the depression…that I think you understood all too well. I know toward the end you were really feeling similarly to me…that this is all a life sentence.
It was such a struggle for me to watch you battle your own depression, though it wasn’t much of a battle because you didn’t seem to fight it much. The whole time, I was wishing I could help you, even when I could barely function myself. I wish I’d done more, but of course you resisted everything. You used to joke that nurses make the worst patients, but it wasn’t a joke. You did everything you knew you shouldn’t do. Lots of salt, high fat, high carb, sweets…
And in the end, who really gives a damn? If it made you happy, it should have made me happy. But I knew what you were doing to yourself. I knew because I struggle with doing the right things myself. And especially when I’m struggling to think of reasons to be vertical, you know?
Like I am right now.
This time of year is horrible for me, but this year…ugh. You dying makes one less thing tethering me to this plane. I’ve felt like I’m past my expiration date for decades. But you know how it is…”you have to fake it till you make it.” Except I’ve been faking it my whole life. I’m beginning to think it doesn’t apply to me.
I don’t know what to do. I’m sitting in a house I’m going to have to sell, barely keeping my head above water. I don’t know shit about real estate or probate or doing taxes for anything like this. But I’m going to have to figure it out, anyway. I have so much to do, but I’m paralyzed. I can’t think straight. I can’t concentrate or focus. I have no drive or ambition. I can’t sleep. My eating habits are crap. Sugar is through the roof. My body hurts from head to toe. I’m a fucking mess, Mom. But the world doesn’t care. The bills and creditors sure as hell don’t.
“Soon, you’re going to have your very own place again!” friends tell me. “Very exciting! It’ll be a new chapter!” I’m not excited. I am the opposite of excited. This book sucks. I’ve been done with it for a while, so why the hell do you think I’m looking forward to another chapter?
This veered way off what I thought it was going to be. Sorry about that, Mom. I started off thinking it’d be a nice maudlin letter, but it quickly became me just venting. It’s hard to talk about this stuff. I’m sure you know. People don’t want to hear it. I’ve been isolating more than usual since you died. Everything is just a means to distract me for an hour or two. Distract me from….the darkness. Don’t worry, it’s nothing more than ideation, as the shrinks would say…just thinking. I’m not going to act on it. But if a meteor took me out right now? I wouldn’t bitch. I may have even prayed for such a thing. More than once.
Right. Let’s talk nicer things. I went over to Larry’s daughter’s for Christmas dinner. Steak, green beans, baked potatoes. Excellent. Now I’m back here, contemplating going to see the final Star Wars movie, “Rise of Skywalker.” I don’t go to the movies much these days, but this I definitely want to see on the big screen. Even if they have totally Disneyfied my childhood love. I just don’t know if I have the energy reserves to go to the mall and endure more people. Ha, never mind. I just checked the ticket prices. $16. I’ll wait until $5 Tuesday. And they wonder why theaters are struggling…give me a break.
Yeah, small talk isn’t working, either. Nothing seems to work.
I keep going. Not very well, but I do it. Because I’m supposed to. Friends tell me how strong I am, Mom, and I shake my head and have to laugh. I’m not strong. I can just take a lot of shit and still not die. Some might say those are the same thing, but I would disagree. Strong infers mental and spiritual toughness, which I do not possess. I have only endured pain. Cockroaches do as much.
You remember me saying this is a letter I never thought I’d be writing? It’s because I honestly never thought I’d be around longer than you. Or Dad. It amazes me I lasted this long. Every year, another birthday passes and I’m like, “What the hell am I still doing here?”
I miss you, Mom. I am really not doing well, in case that’s not already painfully obvious. I don’t have much hope for the new year. I’m pretty fucking terrified, truth be known. And I apologize for the language, but sometimes there is no better word.
I did a lot of avoiding thinking about you today. It gets harder and harder to do as I go through the things in this house. I decided to pull out some of the Christmas decorations, though I haven’t felt like celebrating a thing.
At least the ceramic tree lights are nice to look at in the dark.
Merry Christmas, Mom. I hope it’s better where you are.