As everyone in America with eyes, ears, and/or a brain has by now realized, Christmas is coming. I know I don't need to tell you how overwhelming and even depressing it can all be: the commericals filled with beaming babies, the orderly rows of children in the holiday cards on the mantle, the emptiness between the two stockings hanging over the fireplace. The trials of holidays for the barren are familiar and well-documented, and I'm not sure what I can add to the story.
Other than my observations of the differences between this year and last year. Last year was awful. I had miscarried only a few weeks before and was still dealing with crashing hormones for all of December and most of January (it took nine weeks for me to get a normal period after the d&c). Lawyer Guy and I were fighting, both so on edge with grief. I cried most mornings before I got out of bed and every morning in the shower. I cried most afternoons, too. During that winter break, LG would come home from work to find me huddled in a ball on the couch, my face red and swollen from tears and a permanent groove etched in the cushions from my refusal to move for hours at a time.
And yet, in some ways, this year is worse. My emotions are more settled, but less intense. I'm not aching with grief, but I'm also not buoyed by hope. Even though I was sunk in misery a year ago, I was also acutely aware of how beautiful Christmas was and how much I needed it. I took such pleasure in decorating my tree and listening to the Charlie Brown Christmas album on repeat and drinking hot cocoa in front of the fire and walking through the freshly fallen Brooklyn snow on New Year's Eve, listening to church bells ringing in the quiet and telling myself that a new year was coming with the promise of something better, that if I could just survive the awful pain I was in I would soon be rewarded.
At the end of 2010, I know that isn't true, and I'm terribly afraid that a new year signifies nothing except new ways to be disappointed. I force myself to go through the motions: pulling out my decorations, lighting Chanukah candles, trimming my tree, picking out gifts, and designing a holiday card. But it lacks the joyfulness I have always felt in the past at this time of year, that extra sparkle that gives life its special glint.
For example, the past three years, I have insisted we send out cards with our pictures, to show that we're a family just as much as anyone else. Last year I sent out a card with THREE pictures, taken on our vacations in Rome and London (my little "Fuck you, I get to go to Europe whenever I want" to everyone with babies). And this year, I just don't have the heart to pretend anymore. I can't find a single picture that I like-- I look fat in all of them, or sad. But that's not even the real problem, which boils down to the fact that every picture of the two of us is missing someone and looking at them reminds me of the fact. And every ornament I hang on the tree isn't one that I picked out for my baby. And every Christmas song I play on the iPod isn't one that I'm introducing to my child for the first time.
I guess right now I'd prefer grief to gloom because even in the depths of misery we know that it has to end, but lethargy and discontent can go on forever.
And yet I do have some hope, however flickering, a little candle's worth, that maybe saying the magic words "This time next year" will work. And I do like the card we're sending out, picture-free and everything: two little birds in a tree, all alone except for each other.
I'm back, and it's hopefully not a once-off!!
11 months ago