Sat in a traffic jam on the M25 today gave me a chance to reflect on what is about to be our second Christmas without Oscar. People do say that Christmas is a difficult time of year for those without loved ones and I understand that more deeply now. For me that is because Christmas is all about time together with family. Both David and I share childhood memories of cosy family times at Christmas and having a sense that everything is just fine and that is a sense that he and I won’t experience again.
Christmas is a very isolating time too because from the beginning of December onwards we can feel the bubbles of excitement building amongst our friends, especially the ones with children as they plan their magical surprises. We learned last year that Christmas might have felt particularly difficult because whereas Oscar’s birthday or the anniversary of his death is all about him, Christmas time is all about everybody else and our two other children deserve the full Christmas experience too. People who used to receive cards at Christmas time might have noticed that so far we’ve not been able to send cards any more. Receiving Christmas cards is difficult. I just find it too hard to read a card addressed to the four of us, with massively well intentioned good wishes of merriment and fun. Writing cards is equally difficult. I can’t sign it from the five of us because we don’t exist but it’s too sad to sign it from the four of us. We have received some really beautiful cards this year which have been able to make us smile because somehow Oscar’s name is included.
I had a look back at our journal to see how far we had come in the past twelve months because so much has happened. I thought that I would be able to say to David ‘look! See what we said then…. we wouldn’t say that now! We may not be in a brilliant place but it is at least a different place to last year.’ But actually that was not the case. I feel exactly the same this year as I did the same time last year. The only difference is is that the way that it feels is not a new experience for us.
The bubbles of excitement do happen in the Cole household too though. The past 24 sleeps have been very carefully counted. Holly has managed to keep most of her Christmas present related secrets a secret. She’s decorated the street with glitter so that the reindeer can see where to land and stopped talking at bedtime convinced that the aircraft noise overhead was Santa’s sleigh. Holly will have a few brilliant days with family, giving and receiving presents and playing games but for her, as well as us, it is in a wider context. We all visited Oscar’s grave this afternoon and laid down some wreaths together. David and I have said previously that we usually feel numb when we go down there but today tears have never been far away and we stood and really really missed him. Even Holly and Barney managed to be quite still. As Holly opened her mouth to complain about the cold she realised that her timing was off and the words faded quietly away. We stood in the cold bright sunshine lost in our own thoughts, then we talked about Oscar; about what he has taught us this year, what he has enabled us to do, and about how lucky we are compared to him, and then eventually we tore ourselves away.