After a completely wretched Christmas Eve day (during which I moped, grumped and held back the wall of tears that had been threatening to burst the dam until I couldn't stand it any longer and dissolved into a sobbing puddle while trying to distract myself by cleaning the bathroom) I made it all the way through dinner at the in-laws on Christmas Eve night, complete with children.
As always, the dread I felt was far worse than the event. I felt the emptiness in the space around me that I knew Thomas should have been occupying, but I also felt him there, filling up the living room while I watched my sweet 17-month old nephew play. He wasn't there with us, but he was there just the same.
I wish someone had spoken his name - let me know that they remembered and missed him too - but I have to respect the fact that everyone grieves differently and some are more private and quiet about it than others. Such is the case with my in-laws. My sister-in-law did comment on the bracelet I was wearing - the one Catherine, another sister in sorrow, so kindly made for me using tiny silver blocks that spell THOMAS. A--- said she liked it and smiled. That was recognition enough - it's all she could do, and I understand.
We ate, we laughed, we opened presents and then we came home and collapsed in our Christmas pajamas and promptly fell asleep in front of the TV watching A Christmas Story. It was a very comforting end to a sad and stressful day.
I'm endlessly glad it's over.
If I had to do it all over again (and oh my God I hope I never do) I would let the tears come before the first Christmas Eve. I would un-cork the bottle and just let myself grieve freely in the days and weeks before. I knew the meltdown would come, and I'm just lucky it did while I was here alone with My Beloved instead of at his parents' house last night.
I'm so much better today because of it. I miss Thomas today, so much, but I feel at peace too. I know he's near and I know he'll stay by my side.
I can't wait for Christmas dinner at my Mom and Dad's. There's nothing like going home, and I'm so happy that I feel my little angel is coming with me, just like he did yesterday - just like he always does.
Merry Christmas Thomas.