Another Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza is here, and the World is going about its business, preparing for a few days of indulgent celebration. For the past two years, I’ve struggled to ignore the same recurring pangs of Remember-When, as I do my best to join the festivities.

I’m not alone in this struggle. I know that millions of young widowed people, with or without children, struggle with the same pains, in different ways.

It’s a serious test of our Grief Journey: How well will I handle this year?

Technically, this will be my third Christmas without Jon. I have long past the painful yet foggy Year of Firsts, and even the stark Second Year of Harsh Reality. Both years were a painful climb. And many times last year, I wondered if I would always feel so empty, as if I had nothing to look forward to ever again. I know I’ve asked God countless times if I would ever feel free to really enjoy my life the way I used to.  I also believe that the answer will show up if and when I am ready for it. Mostly because I didn’t realize how much I loved my life and how happy I was in it.  And also because I know that life is really just a mental perspective, and my happiness might just depend on how much I’m willing to work to get it.

I do know that without this experience, I might have never learned to appreciate what’s really important to me, (without my habit of complaining about menial, petty things).  But I also see how things may always be bittersweet, because there is no part of me that will ever dispute that things would be better with Jon here, with me or not, than without him. And I do mean that if it meant that Jon could be alive right now, I’d rather be divorced from him than fight to hold onto even the simple memories of his voice. Before anyone tries to correct me, please note that I have also been through a painful divorce. While I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I know the differences firsthand, and can honestly say I prefer it to Death. Call me crazy.

I’m sorry. I’m trying to stay within the structure of my original thought, but I’m having a hard time. It makes perfect sense to me, however, because this time of year messes up my thinking. It seems to me that every time I approach an anniversary or birthday or some other significant holiday, I can feel literally feel the emptiness and loneliness creep up on my like a storm. I subconsciously ignore it, but it’s pain is evident in my jumbled thoughts, and my short temper.  I hate to admit it, because I would rather be stronger than this, but I really miss my husband. And as the season grows colder, I long for the days when I had someone to keep me warm. It goes without saying that I long for that someone to be Jon, because I can’t imagine anyone else willing or available for that sort of thing, but sometimes, I remember clearly what I am missing out on, and the idea of not being quite as single as I am becomes very tempting.

What I mean to say, if any of this makes any sense, is that after all this time, I still get tripped up by certain times of the year, when his presence is especially missed. And that I realize it might be a struggle I experience for years to come, until that day that it doesn’t. I thought, once, that it might depend on my own decision to simply let it go and move on, but I am well aware, now, that I do not have control over such things. Indeed, as I try to control my grief, I have learned the hard way that it only causes anger and frustration. I do not have excess time or energy for such things in my life.

Maybe I will always feel this way. Maybe I will always long for Jon like he left yesterday, and maybe I will never have room enough for someone else. While many people consider it a flaw, I am tired of trying to change it. And maybe by admitting it, and accepting it as part of me, I’ll finally be able to open up to something new, or at least, appreciate even more what I still have. All I know for sure is that I still miss and love him, even if I don’t have time to really acknowledge it like I used to.

It’s 40 degrees out. With the wind chill, it feels like 38. May you all have Happy Holidays. May you all find a way to stay warm.