And there goes the second December without Erik. This past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. December is always such a hard time. The holiday season starts with our wedding anniversary on the eve of Christmas Eve. This second year of celebrating the holidays without Erik hit me harder than I had expected. It felt different than year one. It felt more intense. It felt more real. It felt closer to home. The numbness and fogginess of last year seemed to have lifted a bit. I was dealing with conflicting feelings of wanting to be happy for the twins, but then sadness for the now empty space in our home. Those feelings reminded me of holding a lump of tangled Christmas lights and as I start to work through untangling them all I end up with is frustration.
I found myself looking for a lot of distractions this year. Filling up my time down to the minute so I could avoid any time long enough for me to get lost in my thoughts or feelings. Whether this is healthy or not, it was what I needed this year. And I allowed myself to have that. I threw myself into making as much magic for the kids as I possibly could. While this helped to keep me busy it also brought to the forefront the deep sadness I also hold for my kids. The sadness of them not having their dad around while growing up. The sadness of them never getting to know him, but also the sadness of him never getting to know them. I try to find any way I can to include or honor Erik in every aspect of our celebrations, but that doesn’t replace his presence for me or them. When we took our holiday pictures this year I knew if I was to be in the pictures with them I would need to include Erik somehow. I still couldn’t get past the thought of doing Christmas family photos without Erik, which is why I opted not to be in them last year. So this year I brought a picture of Erik from our wedding day to the photoshoot with me. As I saw the twins giggling and playing with his picture during the shoot my heart dropped. They were so happy to just hold a picture of Daddy and play with him and laugh with him. But it wasn’t really him was it? And in my head, I couldn’t help but think how he should be here. He should be holding them right now, tickling them, and laughing alongside them instead of them trying to play with a mere object that holds Dad’s picture. The hardest thing for me this year aside from missing Erik and wishing he was here was seeing our kids truly experience Christmas and knowing that he is missing it all. Knowing that they are also missing half of a whole.
To go from the pain of spending another anniversary without him to Christmas Eve was rough. Christmas Eve was always when Erik and I would turn on our favorite vinyl and get ready for Christmas morning. Having to do that alone this year hit in deep places I haven’t felt before. The hardest part was Christmas morning. With the twins starting to understand more, this was the first year they truly held enthusiasm for Christmas. As I saw the excitement in their eyes walking out of the room that morning I burst into tears. All the feelings rushed at once like a lump of tangled Christmas lights. Happy tears of seeing the magic in our kids’ eyes, but sad tears for the empty space next to me. And all I could think over and over in my head as my lips forced a smile was, how could you not be here Erik?