I finished writing my Christmas cards today, but they've gone out without the tiny angel stickers included in the signature - something I vowed to do that first lonely Christmas without Thomas in 2005, and something I did in 2006 and 2007 too.
For some reason this year, it didn't feel necessary. And I'm not entirely sure whether to be happy or sad about that.
Over the last year I've found that I need those kind of visible remembrances less and less. It always startles me a bit when I find that I'm content to keep him in my heart instead of on my sleeve, but I don't have the energy to dissect the reason why. It is what it is, and it feels right.
Sometimes I dig too deep to figure out the motivations for the way I think and feel, when sometimes it's best just to think and feel and move on without question.
I don't need the angel stickers this year. End of story. I love Thomas every bit as much as I did last year when I used them - maybe even more. I just don't happen to need the stickers anymore. It's as simple as that.
I think I'm just whittling down the rituals - condensing them, maybe.
Maybe it's all part of the slow acceptance process. At first you need outward signs of grief and remembrance - you need to actually see tangible things that might help you explain the agonizing pain you're in. But eventually, as time passes and the sorrow becomes more a part of who you are rather than something foreign you're constantly fighting to make sense of, you're content to be quieter about your ways of remembering and grieving.
But whatever the reason, I'm at peace with what I'm doing. And how I'm doing it.
I have ways I remember and honour him that I'm pretty sure I'll never change. The special candle at family dinners, the new ornament for his cemetery wreath each year, and the request for good deeds to be done in his name on his birthday. I can't see those ever changing. They are too much a part of my relationship with Thomas to change.
But other things have quietly slipped away, just like he did.
And it's okay. Somehow, it's okay.