Life feels like a blur since last Friday morning. We left the house in a hurry, partied the weekend away, celebrating big life events for dear friends, with a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, and a wedding on Sunday. Then I walked in the door on Monday afternoon, and proceeded to make Rosh Hashanah dinner.
I’m not I’ve come up for air yet, and am looking forward to catching a few extra winks this weekend. I wouldn’t trade the busyness of last weekend for the world, though, even if it was emotionally difficult at moments. At events like these, the empty space in our lives is accentuated. As my old friends in Brooklyn made their way into temple, my heart felt crushed a little more each time, while I watched husbands and wives walk in together.
I used to be one of them. A couple, that is. Our girls have known each other since they were four years old. We went apple picking together in the fall, celebrated Halloween and Christmas with parties at my house in Brooklyn. But that was all then. And this is now, so vastly different. I have to remind myself often that was me. I was that girl who had that life.
The first year of mourning, everyone is there. Friends take you in on holidays, thinking the first will be the hardest. The advice I give to people now who ask me what they can do for a friend who has recently become widowed is this—set an alert on your phone for one year from now, and again for six months from then, and then again for a year from that. That is when your friend will need you most, when everyone else has resumed life as they know it. That is when they feel their most lonely, when the proverbial dust settles.
This isn’t to say they’re left unscathed. Your story is part of their story, if they’re dear friends. It’s just that they’re removed from it as everyday life kicks back in. Life goes on is the saying, right? I try to make people feel comfortable when they slip around me, and share a story of how their spouse annoyed them. I don’t want to be treated differently, and yet I do in some way.
I want to feel like I matter to someone. This feels like a weakness, but, really, I think it’s just human nature. When the pastor, who also happened to be the father of the bride, recited the words to their handfasting during the ceremony I couldn’t help but feel crushed. Every line began with these are the hands…and mine are alone. Invisible hands, and the thought of M walking side-by-side aren’t always the comfort needed.
Don’t get me wrong. We had an amazing weekend. I danced so much with my girls at the wedding that my old knees were like WTH, lady?! And Isabella loved seeing of bunch of her old elementary school mates.
Still, I came back, and began to feel a somber settling in as my mind drifted to the holidays the lie ahead (I know, I know…it’s only October 6th). There’s a lyric in a song by Cloud Cult, the name is The Ghost Inside Our House. “We’ll start a little family, and call it our religion…” That’s exactly what we did, and it was all I ever needed. Christmas with just the four of us was one of the most blessed days of the year. I’ve been trying to figure out where we belong for the past five years, actually this December will mark the sixth year of holidays without Mikey.
The other lyric that stands out in that song is, “So we live on, baby live on, in our song, our hummingbird song”. And that idea is what prompted me to book a three week trip to Europe mid-December to early January. I’m starting to second guess it a little bit, but the truth is it’ll just be me and the girls regardless of where we are, and any place but here felt right back in August when I made this decision.
We’ll be in London, Germany (I so want to see the Christmas markets), Paris, and Italy (I think). The details aren’t quite worked out yet, so I’m not sure what city we’ll be in for Christmas Eve and Day. I reached out to a concierge to help with the planning because it was all starting to feel a bit overwhelming. I think once hotels are booked, I’ll start feeling a little bit more settled about the trip. Until then, I’m going to focus on feeling thankful that I can even plan a trip of such magnitude.
Music Pairing: The Ghost Inside Our House by Cloud Cult.