December 25th is headed toward me like a freight train: unstoppable.
December 25th will be nine long years since you left this world. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long but it also feels like it has been a lot longer. I have so many contradicting emotions that I have stopped trying to sort them out. I leave room for all of them; I just allow them to come and go. I don’t try to push them away, nor hurry them along, nor hold on to them. I just allow the flow of one emotion to another to yet another. Emotions are much like the freight train and December 25th; I can’t stop any of them from coming.
I think about all the things that I am sorry that you have missed. I think about all the things that I am glad that you have missed. Life has a way of being incredibly beautiful and incredibly tragic; sometimes all at the same time. We, as mere mortals, control so very little of what happens in this life. So much of life is thrust upon us without permission and so much just happens around us.
I am aging quicker than I thought possible; rumor has it that grief hurries aging along. I believe this to be true. But, at least, I am still learning. Learning to cope better when things are thrust upon me; learning to react less to things that happen around me. Learning that I dare not saddle myself with the responsibility of anyone else’s happiness; as I am still seeking my own. Most days, happiness feels like an unreachable goal without you here. I try my best to just be content in this life. Content in each moment, taking only one moment at a time as it comes.
Last week brought an unexpected, truly good moment. My long-time friend, Tim, came from three states away to eat a Zachary waffle at Zachary’s Waffle House. He also wanted to go to the cemetery to see your grave marker. I hate the fact that such a reason exists for a visit from my oldest, dearest friend. But I was grateful that he cared enough to make the trip. Since we were 15 years old, he has been there to share my joys and my burdens. He was the first non-family phone call bearing the news of your passing. He should be insulted that I would ruin his Christmas morning with such a tragic phone call but he has shown me nothing but grace. He has tried to understand the most non-understandable cruel thing. He has brought no judgment on my grief nor how I handle it. He has given me room to just be. He is the very definition of a true friend. I am truly grateful that he exists in my world.
The waffles in your honor were especially good because the Waffle House Gathering we held on December 26th starting 2013 continuing through 2019 has stopped taking place. The year 2020 brought us the Covid virus(and wide spread panic) which caused the waffle house dining room to be closed that year, offering take-out only. We haven’t gathered since. I guess it was time to let it go anyway. It hasn’t bothered me much that it stopped taking place; it is always so cold which makes my bones hurt and I don’t feel safe driving in the dark anymore. I suppose I could have tried to move it to lunchtime instead of dinner time but most people work in the middle of the day so I assume that not many would be able to attend. It was lovely while it lasted in the sense that so many remember you and would want to gather in your honor. Again, I hate the fact that such a reason exists to gather in your honor, since I would rather you were here to gather with us.
Nine years later, I am here dealing with the unstoppable freight train of December 25th, and all the emotions that come with it.
Love and miss you every single damn day, kid.