Thanksgiving is over and my hubby & I put out the decorations and put up our Christmas tree. Bittersweet for sure, but trying to put on a positive face! I decided that I wanted to try my hand at creating Glass Blocks for Christmas—well that started something that I am still involved with 2 years later. I converted my dining room into my workspace-plastic tablecloth, paint, brushes, glass blocks, pen and paper and so it began. I found out that I love to draw, and paint! The blocks started out as cutesy blocks and started to become much more. I found myself drawing a lot-thinking of things to put on the blocks-what an interesting thing these ended up being for me. It gave me an outlet for my pain, and anxiety over work, and of course my daughter.
I started the Christmas shopping and with every purchase and every store I was reminded that I did not have to buy for Amber this year. When I shopped for my 2 daughters I would often buy them the same things in different colors---Every time I went to buy my daughter a gift I was reminded that I only need ONE. I was welling up with tears constantly in the malls and this was very difficult. I remember one day as I was walking I looked up and I thought I saw her walking towards me—I stopped dead in my tracks and welled up and as she approached I realized it wasn’t her (I had to wait till she was right in front of me - what was I thinking), of course the notion was nothing but crazy! When I realized all over again that she was dead and I would never see her walking in the mall or anywhere I just broke down! I left the mall to return again another day. Being alone all the time was difficult, how nice it would have been to have a girlfriend with me so that I could have just sat and talked this through until I calmed down. I remember leaving the mall and calling Bridgette - she did not answer and I left her a voice mail to call me back I needed to talk to her right away - she did not call. I drove to the gym - she is there a lot - and looked for her car. I called her again and again left a message as I drove around in tears. She never did call me back - never…..
I was very worried about how the families would deal with this tragedy - especially the kids! I found myself buying more than usual as if that would help somehow. I knew better - I suppose it made me feel better.
It was almost time for our work Christmas Party, which I always dreaded, and I was having a lot of anxiety over how to handle this situation there also. I did not want to drink - I had not had anything to drink at all since Amber passed—I have been afraid that if I started drinking I might not stop. I was not a big drinker to begin with, a glass of wine occasionally, but when you went to a work party you could count on a drunken fest. I was not in the mood to party and these people that I work with had not been supportive for long when I went back to work. Spending an evening at this party seemed like a complete waste of time. We also had an employee party, just me and the girls, —we went out to eat together - that was very uncomfortable as well. Everyone ate as fast as they could and left.
I was still going to help out at Manna Meals and painting glass blocks and researching everything I could on suicide prevention, the grief process, and still trying to find a support group. I was waiting for a therapist to call to set up an appointment and was hoping that would happen before Christmas, but that was not to happen until January.
Hubby was going to have to work over Christmas and New Years Day, the kids would be with their grandparents, and so I was to drive to my Mom’s house by myself on Christmas Day (1 ½ hour one way). Doesn’t sound like a long time unless you are left to do nothing but THINK about being alone and missing your daughter!!!! I knew as Christmas approached that I needed a game plan - it was 2 days away. I started calling churches to try and find a Christmas Eve service. I thought that would keep my mind in a good place until I could go to bed and get up and start driving the next day. I also had no offers or invites to anyone else’s house—you know—completely alone! I did find a church with a service at 7pm. Just as I was going out to get into my car - my neighbor called to see if I wanted to come over. I declined and wished she would have asked me before I had dressed up for a church service. But church is where I needed to be. I went to the church and was surprised at how unsettled I was - no one said hello, I was not welcomed, there was a lot of hustle and bustle about family plans, etc. There were lots of people there and I felt like I was completely alone, on a deserted island. I knew that my thinking was not correct, but I was out of place here….it wasn’t long before I got up and walked out and went home. I curled up with a Christmas movie and my laptop and went to bed.
The next morning I was surprised when my hubby called to say that he would be able to drive from Columbus and meet me at my Mom’s (Raceland, KY) for Christmas. That made the trip a lot easier –I didn’t feel as “alone”. Christmas Day at my Mom’s these days are important, because of her age, and I wish I could say that I enjoyed them more than I do, but it’s a long drive to spend 2 hours and drive back. I was feeling a little closer to my Mom since Amber passed, and wished you could be a little more tender hearted about my feelings.
So here we are at Mom’s, with my wonderful stepfather, brother Dave and sister-n-law Karen, and my brother Rick. It was as if Amber had never died. No one brought it up - it was just like being back at home. I didn’t expect to sit and discuss it all day-I mean heaven forbid that I be a downer on this joyous occasion (that was true sarcasm at its finest). I just wished that someone would ask HOW ARE YOU DOING???? I don’t want to pretend that things are normal - they are not normal - I have lost my Amber! Mom ask me if Chuck and I had been getting out much (like who cares about “getting out”) and I began to tell her about the silence surrounding us at home when she started telling me about how when she gets depressed she goes and does for someone else, or goes shopping. I just shut down at this point and waited for it to all be over so I could make my drive back home. Hubby followed me home with his rental car and we spent the rest of the day in quiet—awwwwww-the best part of the day.
Two days later we drove to Huntington and had our Christmas with my daughter and son-n-law, Amber’s children, and my brother Rick. I was nervous on the drive there again wondering how everyone would act concerning Amber not being there. It is all so different - and the children, what must they think? When we got there and settled in everything was ok - at first. The granddaughter decided to be smart-mouthed and said a couple hurtful things that led to me losing my patience and dared to correct her. Everyone in the house was quiet as I tried to discuss her need for understanding that what she did was disrespectful - you could hear a pin drop! I knew at that instance that I was doing something wrong - was not sure why, but it definitely was wrong. My daughter later explained that she hadn’t been to sleep all night - she had done a sleep over at her dad’s mother’s house and stayed up all night. Great for an 11 year olds attitude. Anyways she was unhappy about everything and we tried to bask in the joy that the grandson had over every present he opened. He was in awe over everything that he got, all smiles, what a great joy that Amber left behind—both of them. I knew that someday the granddaughter would understand, but she broke my heart repeatedly just about every time I saw her. I remember that she wouldn’t allow me to hug her as we were packing up to drive home - it makes me well up with tears to even think about it now. I love these kids as much as I ever could love my daughters and for her to turn away from me was very difficult. My daughter was very good about mentioning her sister to the kid’s and had pictures of her around. Amber was included in this Christmas - I now knew that it would be ok - Christmas that is... at my daughter’s………..
My wish this Christmas is that all you survivor's of suicide loss out there will find a way to get through it until you can enjoy it again - Don't Give Up! Be creative with your plans - make a decision on whether to include your missing loved one in the holidays. Light a candle beside a picture maybe while the family is together. Find a way to honor them and comfort yourself. It is so difficult to remember that the reason for the season is about the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ with all the memories that we have of past Christmas's in our face. Forgive yourself, don't beat yourself up over your feelings - let them out. This is my third Christmas now without my Amber and although I still get teary eyed when I least expect it it is better than it was that 1st Christmas. I do remember the reason for the season these days..............