I admit, there have been times when I have wailed, WHY did you have to die in December?!? But then, what other time would have been acceptable? There is no season when the loss of you would have been any easier. What I am really crying is WHY did you have to die and leave me alone!
There is nothing rational about this cri du cœur. No rational discussion of the cause of death matters in this case. This is a cry of pure loss, rage, and grief, aimed right at the heart of God in hopes of. . . what? I don't know. I just know it rings out from the throats of bereaved lovers everywhere, in all languages, in all times, as the reality of our enormous loss begins to settle in.
My reality was altered by your death in ways I am still discovering five years on.
FIVE YEARS!? How can it be five years, when the loss of you still feels so recent?
And yet I have managed to cobble together a new reality that living without you made necessary. And most days, it works pretty well.
I love Advent in a new way now, because it gives me space to move into Christmas slowly, making it over the ordeal of my birthday without you, and then moving through the pain of this horrible anniversary.
This afternoon I hauled out all the boxes of the Nativities we collected throughout our marriage, many brought back from some wonderful trip together - or occasionally trips we each took on our own. Opening each box releases a legion of memories.
The Nativities come from trips to Israel, Italy, Sicily, England, France, Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, as well as some from local artists here at home.
Some of the Nativities were brought by each of us into the marriage (along with books and pieces of art. Lots of books, lots and lots of books).
And some were gifts from beloved friends and family. Wherever they come from, they are imbued with love and care and memories of blessed Christmases with you.
Moving into Christmas involves many conversations with you still. Anyone watching me would think, ok, here's a crazy person, but they would be wrong. I am not crazy, I am continuing a conversation that simply won't just end.
And day after day, I am comforted by the knowledge that your sweet sweet spirit isn't gone, that it shows up in funny, mysterious, weird, and loving ways, much as you did when you were here.
Because here's the most important thing I've learned in the last five years -- love doesn't end just because your physical presence did.