Real talk: I hate Winter. Like, I’m the BIGGEST baby about it. I’ve spent about half my life in places with cold Winters, so you’d think I’d be used to them by now. In New York, I’d even have to spend most of my time OUTSIDE in them, trudging through the streets and almost being swept up in the wind tunnels of blinding snow that lurked around every. Damn. Corner. Somehow I survived two whole Winters there.
But now it’s more than just not liking the cold. Now it’s a huge trauma/grief trigger, and I’m fighting it. Like, I can feel my body and mind and spirit all digging their heels in, trying to stay in the warm sunlight where nothing bad happens and we can all just run away into the mountains to escape our worries and dance off through the meadow into the sunset. And not have to think about or worry about that time when, in the thick of Winter and amidst Holiday cheer, we went to wake our husband up from a nap and he was dead. Or all the things that happened in the handful of weeks before, that we should have paid more attention to.. Yeah, screw those times. Those times can suck it.
If I had my way, I’d live somewhere where it was mid 70’s year-round. In the city, where we would have access to farmer’s markets and concert venues and quirky antique shops downtown. With the best schools and parks and museums, where my kids could learn and explore. But also like 20 minutes from the mountains where we could hike and canoe on the river and go “animal-watching” (Thomas’ new favorite thing) and get away from the people-ness of the city. Such a place exists, right? It has to.
This time of year is also hard because now that I’ve gotten my new normal, things like Holiday parties and big gatherings threaten it. Being around the people who I love most is a reminder that Gregg’s not there with us. That’s actually not just a Holiday thing, it’s turned into an all-the-time thing. I don’t know what to do about it besides not avoid those situations… but they’re just so dang avoidable! Given the choice between putting myself in those situations and feeling the loneliness slap me in the face full-force, or staying away and just pushing that loneliness deep, deep down until is suffocates and dies- I’d like to say I always make the healthy choice, but I don’t. Sometimes the stakes are so high that it’s either me or the loneliness and I simply have to cut of its air supply. Survival.
BUT, I also refuse to be that person who 20 years from now still hates Winter and doesn’t like Christmas and is the doom-and-gloom, bah humbug of every Holiday party. So, since we can’t escape Winter right now, we will just bundle up before dancing off through the meadow into the sunset, with our scarves trailing behind us and our cheeks red from the cold. We will make friends with the snow, even if it’s a little a-hole. We will smile at every gaudy Christmas tree until we find something we like about it, as if it were a difficult co-worker or a rude cashier. We will do as much of Holiday spirit-y things that we can handle, and bow out of all the rest, but add more each year… probably. And we’ll create new traditions that will be ours, that will keep our new normal going strong.