This has taken me over two weeks to collect my thoughts and put them into a blog. Life has an amazing way of throwing us unexpected twist and turns.
Whilst collecting my thoughts to put down I received the news that my father-in-law had passed away. This could have impacted my view point regarding 2018. Yolanda, my wife of 19 years passing away at the beginning of the year and now my father-in-law closing out the year. It would have been very easy to have stated and labeled 2018 as the worst year of my life. However as I have progressed along this journey of grief I have learnt to live in the moment. I know that the day is made up of many moments and that one good or bad moment can not define my entire day.
Now this Christmas season and the funeral service of my father-in-law brought with them many memories and time for reflection.
My first instinct was to say that I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas. I didn’t want to put up the tree and all the decorations. It felt wrong to be celebrating when our hearts where aching with the pain of having lost Yolanda. My mind was changed by my youngest who asked to do some decorations as it just didn’t feel like Christmas.
Then what was I going to do about buying all the gifts and wrapping them. This was an area where Yolanda excelled. She knew what to buy and where to find everything. Last year whilst in hospital she managed to locate a present that my eldest daughter had requested, I was then given clear instructions as where to go and who to ask for. That was Yolanda. This year I needn’t have worried as Milah stepped up to the plate and did the majority of the shopping for me. She also assisted in wrapping the gifts. Neither of us have the gift wrapping skill of Yolanda but they still were wrapped.
Christmas Day came with all the reminders that Mom was absent. Her physical presence not there and her voice filled with excitement as we all opened our gifts. We however managed to move through this time by creating new memories.
I then went to the Christmas service at the church I have started attending. This was just another painful reminder of our loss. Yolanda wasn’t there to sing the Christmas songs, she loved to sing. It was also a time to reflect on 2018. The loss, the pain, trying to move forward, the depression, the turmoil and all the good things that have taken place. Mixed emotions reminding me that happy and sad can live in the same space.
Then came the family lunch. It was great to get together however that constant feeling of someone missing kept appearing from each moment. Wishing everyone a merry Christmas, pulling the traditional cracker, serving a plate of food. All screamed Yolanda is not here. It was at this lunch that I could see Milah was hurting and sharing many of the same feelings. She was missing her Mom. I could read the hurt in her inner being, however there was nothing I could do. I had given her the knowing hug and reassurance that I was there for her. I had to allow her to own this experience of grief and to navigate her way through it. It is just so hard to be a bystander in these growing moments.
We got through the day and were grateful to have been able to put it behind us. It was the morning of the 26th that everything hit me like a ton of bricks. The emotions of the roller coaster ride had taken a plummeting turn. I guess in my way I had prepared myself for Christmas Day and had been able to cope with everything. I however hadn’t prepared for the day after.
Shortly after Christmas we received the news that my father-in-law had passed away. Just when we thought we could get through 2018 without another major event. Plans were put in place to get to Capetown and be there for my family in the Cape.
At the funeral there was a video played of a Christmas spent with the in-laws and it showed Yolanda handing out gifts. This was tough enough seeing this video but when it played the second time with the sound of Yolanda’s voice it was as if the girls and I had been put through a shredder. We quietly went outside and had a good cry together. It was a good time just for the three of us.
Then came the return trip to Joburg. Many many memories as over the years Yolanda and I had done this trip many times. Memories at each stop. Memories of events along the route.
The time of memories has been tough however I am grateful for them. On reflection it allows me to be thankful for all the good times spent with Yolanda. Would I have liked more, absolutely.
I am thankful that we created many memories that I am able to go back to.