I used to really love this time of year. I loved the snow… the anticipation of Christmas… and I absolutely LOVED shopping for Christmas presents for you. Having lived here in Texas since 2009 this will be my 6th Christmas without snow and now that you’re gone it’ll be my 5th Christmas without you, too.
Yesterday it sort of all caught up with me; I’ve been pushing it down and distracting myself pretty well but hearing the news of the suicide of a young man near my hometown just pulled it all back up right to the surface. My heart was breaking for this family who is now dealing with the loss of their future with their son but also for me as I remembered exactly what it felt like upon getting the news of your death and the days, weeks and months that followed. I lost you two months shy of Christmas in 2010 and your absence was all the more pronounced during the holidays and I mourn for the family facing their first Christmas without their loved one. This recent death makes two suicide deaths related to close friends of mine in a single month. It’s just too many.
Every Christmas since you died I find myself looking back at holidays throughout the years and some of the fun we had exchanging gifts. We were always good about getting each other some pretty great stuff. But the joke gifts we’d exchange were often my favorites!! Do you remember the year you opened up a box from me and pulled out a teddy bear? You looked horribly confused, and rightfully so; you were a young man in your late 20’s, after all. But the reason for the bear was soon revealed as I secretly pulled a small remote from my pocket and pressed the red button in the center. A split-second after pressing that button the bear sitting on your lap began to fart. You laughed so hard! (Almost as hard as I did.) I almost wished I’d gotten one for myself; after all, who wouldn’t want a remote control-operated farting bear?? Simpsons items were always big with us, too; I still wear the Homer Simpson slippers you gave to me about a dozen years ago and the talking Homer Simpson clock I gave to you one year I now proudly display on my bookshelf at home.
This year I’ll be heading to Maryland to spend Christmas with my sweetie and his family and it’s the first Christmas I’ve looked forward to in six years. (Having moved here in November of 2009 I wasn’t able to come home and spend that Christmas with you and then 10 short months later you were gone.)
I so vividly remember Christmas Eve of 1990; I was a junior in high school and you were a sophomore. You and I basically spent the whole night together, just the two of us as Mom and Dad weren’t speaking to each other and hadn’t spoken much in weeks. We were pretty certain that a divorce was imminent. You and I sat alone at the base of the tree opening our gifts as well as those gifts from Mom and Dad to each other as they had no interest in joining us. It was a tough evening, for sure… but we had each other and I was so grateful for that. It makes me so sad that my partner in all of that is gone.
My grief just feels so very close to the surface this time of year… and I just can’t seem to get enough sleep. I’m overwhelmed and absolutely exhausted each and every day and in the past week alone have started to cry three times in stores when I spotted families shopping together or see a family headed home to decorate the beautiful pine tree braced to the roof of their car.
I’m missing you more than ever, dude.
Much love always,