"A Christmas Wish For My First Love" - Excerpt from "A Breath Away"
"I wish for you a Christmas that will last you all your life, and that you will be happy, and have that precious inner peace.
I wish that folks return to you all the deeds and kindnesses which you so freely dispense.
I wish you a lifetime of small moments of happiness, a smile, a loving hand to reach out to, a quiet walk in the country, a quiet chat, a loving moment when all else becomes as nothing and the world stands still for two.
Most of all I wish to be to you that part that makes you whole and alive, and vital. So my sweet love, I wish for you all good things, all kind things and all loving things for all of your life!"
It was December and Christmas was coming. I remembered back to that day in the summer when Craig said "I won't be here by Christmas" and now here I was facing it for the first time. My friend Barb and I had had a conversation after Craig crossed over and before she and Jim left for Florida for the winter. She reminded me that I needed to get out and get myself a Christmas tree. I told her that I didn't think I wanted to and she said "yes, Lynnie you have to have a Christmas tree, because you matter", and so I promised her that I would get one. I went to HomeSense and bought one that I could handle on my own, one that sat in a square planter and with that was only about a foot taller than me. So, it was a start.
Not too long after Craig crossed over I was thinking of my memory box and the envelope of little love notes that I knew were in there. Notes that Craig had written to me those many years ago. I knew that one day I would take them out and read them but I had been putting it off. Then one night when I went to bed I did not feel like sleeping yet so I went ot the closet and pulled down the memory box. With it sitting on my lap I opened the envelope and read the first note. Almost at the first sentence I started crying as I knew I would. I cried so hard that I could not breathe. But then I got to the bottom line of the first note and read "We do not have forever, as no one does, but oh could we make it sing." I immediately stopped crying as I had this "aha" moment. No one has forever, not one of us! And Craig and I always knew what the consequences of our May/December relationship could be. And still we reached for that star and never looked back. It was like a message from Craig to me right at this moment and I embraced it. I realized how much we had made it sing, and weren't we lucky! I calmed down, put the notes in the envelope, replaced the box on the shelf and went to bed.
So now here I was once again with my memory box looking through the notes, this time smiling. I picked up the "Christmas Wish" note and got the inspiration to type it out on my computer and put it in a matching frame next to the photo of Craig on the dining room buffet. It would make me feel like Craig was with me this Christmas. And all the while he was whispering in my ear "I am here Lynnie".
This Christmas I would have some company in that I was minding "Billy", our niece Suzanne's cat while she and Ellen spent their Christmas away on some beautiful island. He had a bit of a hard time adjusting and would come yowling into my bedroom around 2AM in the night scaring the daylights out of me, finally settling down just two days before another friend of Suzanne's came to take him to her house for a week.
Well here it is - Christmas 2010 and my first one without you. I woke up this morning, laid in bed and said "Merry Christmas Craigie". I do hope you heard me. Billy was good last night - he slept all night long - which was a good thing because I would not have been in the mood for his shenanigans last night. It's almost as though he knew - or then again maybe you were the influence that calmed him down. That's a good thought for me. I got up, put the fireplace on for Billy, put the coffee on for me, and here I sit talking to you. Oh, first I kissed your picture that sits on the dining room console by the kitchen. It is a habit for me now - and I love just being able to look over at that photo of you when I am doing something in the kitchen. Sadly it's a small pleasure - I long for you to be here in your physical presence, but still i am hoping that today your spirit will be with us. In any event you are in my heart where you will always be.
Last night we went to moms and had the Italian Christmas Eve as usual with the pasta that Nanci made. We were only there for a little over 3 hours. Mom is not in good shape and I am getting really worried about that, and quite bluntly a little overwhelmed. She will be here today anyway. On the way home from her place I cried all the way in the car until I pulled into the garage. When I entered into the house I could hear Billy crying from the bedroom. He was lonely, and he had been on the bed moving the pillows and the throw rug around. I sat down on the bench outside our room and he jumped up next to me. Me crying again - and he desperately wanting someone to pet him climed up on to my lap. I said "Oh Billy, don't we make a soulful pair". We were two sand entities last night.
Craigie I am reminded of Christmases past when we would be up in the morning - having our coffee and thinking about starting the day. We each had our different routines for the dinner. I would be getting the sweet potatoes ready so they could be partially cooked in the oven before we had to put the bird in. You would be washing the bird and then preparing the dressing. Together we would stuff that bird and get it ready for the oven. This year I am on my own and having to do it all. I only hope my dressing will turn out. I know it won't be like yours - or maybe you can be looking over my shoulder and helping me to make it just right. I want to say "I hate it all" but hate is such a strong word and I am trying not to hate - in memory of you. I should love as much as I can. I love you so much Craig and I continue to do so. There will be no one like you for me ever again,. You were it - my dream - my lover - my best friend - my everything! So then I should feel very lucky and oh so fortunate to have had the fates put you and me together. It was a wonderful 26 years together - and quite truthfully the three years before that just working for you were some of the happiest for me. You and I - as the words that popped into my head one morning said - "You and I forever". I love you Craigie.
Merry Christmas, Lynnie
And so we had Christmas, Mom, Nanci and Tim, Paula, Peter and Deb, Tarra and Kyle, and we made it as normal as could be. I made the dressing for the first time to stuff the turkey. This had always been Craig's job as in his words "no one can make dressing like mine". I tried very hard and as I stuffed that turkey I wondered if it would be as good as Craig's. Peter carved the bird when we were ready and we toasted with glasses of wine and remembered the man that we loved so much. For Christmas I had given Peter, Tarra, Kyle and Paula a framed photo of them with Craig and I truly hope that they loved it as much as I loved putting them together. We got through it and it was a big step.
Now I had to face New Years Eve. Typically in the last years Craig and I had always enjoyed just staying home together. It wasn't a big deal, but this year would be. I was not looking forward to "just being alone", so it was great that I already had a plan in effect to go along with Juliette to the dinner and dance at our clubhouse. That night we joined three other couples at a table and had a very nice meal. Then the music started up and this is where it would be hard because all I could think of was how much Craig and I would have loved to dance. Then all of a sudden a fella grabbed my arm and got me up to dance, twirling me around to this fast tune and in that moment I decided "this is too soon for me". I got thorugh the dance, thanked him, went back to my table and then left for my cousin's house. Mary Ann had told me that she and Larry were just going to be home if I wanted to come over. My cousin Ray and his wive Donna would be there too. So off I went and spent the last half of the evening watching a movie with them and drinking more wine.
And so came the end of the year 2010 for me. I had been through a lot in this year. We had moved into a new community that we were both looking forward to and then everything changed, but I had made it through so far. And another thing occurred to me. I had wondered how and if I was going to be able to stay in this community, this new townhouse when so much had happened here, so much sadness. But this was Craig's plan for me. He had wanted to have me settled somewhere where I would not have to worry about maintenance, snow removal, grass cutting and loneliness, should something happen to him. We just didn't think it would be so soon. I decided in that moment that for that very reason I could stay here and I would be thankful for the way it all fit into place, and for how once again Craig had taken care of me.