I suppose that one way to survive Christmas would be not to have it. An even better way would be to not only have it, but survive and thrive at Christmas. Or any other of the many “special occasions” scattered on the ground of this unfamiliar road, where anything can make one trip and fall.
But we did survive Christmas, if surviving means that we are still here in just as much pain as we were before. Being the survivors of a loved one who died by suicide, is akin to being under the moment to moment assault of withdrawal symptoms-of impossible to fulfill cravings.
At times taking deep breaths gets you through it, but others are like the powerful pull of the ocean’s undertow, they drag you under before tossing you back out to the water’s edge.
As my daughter put it to a friend of hers last night; “You’ve no idea what’s it like.”
Still, we did have Christmas and presents under the tree. To make up the numbers for Andrew’s missing share, my genius daughter wrapped things like Robert’s own mini-ipod, put it under the tree and gave it to him again as a present; another creative one, or I should say two, were the stud finder and hammer my husband had lent her so that she could put pictures up, in her apartment.
Yet another of Florentina’s tricks was to invite some of her friends to join us in the exchanging of presents.
All this creativity augmented the spread under the tree and camouflaged our being Andrewless.
I had said that I didn’t want anything, yet I got a lovely chiming water fountain from Robert; a warm pair of gloves from Hugh (grieving makes me feel the cold more); Florentina found, copied, enlarged and framed a picture of one-year-old Andrew and me. I’ve never had the patience to pose for photographs, even less now that I no longer come out looking as I did ten, twenty years ago. I am paying the price for that, because as a result, there aren’t many recent pictures of Andrew and me. Still, Florentina took all the pictures that she could find and put them in an album for me. On the back she wrote:
“To the most wonderful Mother in the world… Tigger told me so himself.”
You can imagine how the dams burst with that! But that’s not all, do you remember the post I wrote a few days ago about “Andrew’s dirty laundry,” where I write that I enjoy ironing?
Listen to this one: wrapped in pretty paper was a 2010 calendar called “Extreme Ironing,” which is all about people who take their ironing passion to the extreme, by that I mean to extreme places where not only ironing is a challenge, but actual survival. The gift tag that accompanied it read, “To Dizzpops from Tigger via Nanny (Florentina’s nickname).” It was just the kind of thing he would have found funny to give as a present, and I did feel it as coming from him.
As for the meal, I am grateful to the friends who joined us at the Christmas table. Thank you.
And thank you Andrew, for finding ways to let me know that you were there.
I am, as always your loving Mummy.