Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Without You

I spent the entirety of today on planes: Miami to Brazil, Brazil to Uruguay. Twelve hours total including the layover. This left me with ample time, free of distraction, to fixate on Blake and his family's first Christmas without him. The lack of wifi on these international flights frustrated me to no end. I wanted to reach out to everyone and check in on their hearts. I knew this day wasn't going to be easy for anyone, so I wanted to feel connected to them and show my support.

Although Blake and I were in a relationship last year during Christmas, we only got to be together over video calls throughout the day. I was on a trip to Panama that I planned with my parents before Blake and I started dating. Because I was thousands of miles away, there was no way I could spend the holiday with him. Blake was really upset by this. Christmas was his favorite holiday and he wanted to spend it with everyone he loved. I cheered him up with promises of the best Christmas ever together next year and for years after that. Today, that failed promise to him weighed heavy on my heart.

After I landed, I rushed to connect to wifi so I could finally send his family messages.  As I saw his sister's picture of him and her from Christmas a few years ago and his cousins sweet comment sending her prayers, my heart started breaking all over again. I thought of the macaroni and cheese he would've scarfed down and the laughter he would've surely brought. I thought of his empty chair at the table and the empty space in the family pictures. Missing presents, missing smiles, missing love. It didn't seem fair.

But I realized that even though Christmas is a day of heightened awareness of loss due to the intense focus on family, it's really just another day. His family will get through Christmas just like we've gotten through every other day since his death: minute by minute, hour by hour. Although I begged Blake all day to be with them and make sure they knew he was there, I got an overwhelming sense that they all already knew. Just like I've gotten stronger, so have they. We handled the funeral weekend, his birthday, Thanksgiving, and now Christmas. Those days were all hard, but we got through them together.

Every day I'm inspired by his family's strength. Not only have they gotten through every day with grace, but they've constantly found a way to lift me up whenever I'm a mess. Whenever I think that I'm messaging them to give them strength, in actuality it seems like they are the ones helping me. Through trying to comfort them, I end up receiving the love I need to fill my heart. I just hope that I have been able to do for them even half of what they've done for me.


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