I need to make writing a priority again. There’s so many different emotions and thoughts that run through me every day, and instead of processing them like usual through writing, I just let them go. I shouldn’t. Wyette once told me that I should make it a goal to write something every day, even if it’s just to say that I have nothing to write. She may be right. I should try it.
Last week Will and I put up a Christmas tree. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but to me, it is. Growing up, my grandparents and I had set traditions when it comes to the holidays. Grandfather and I would go out into the woods, find a tree, cut it down, and drag it back home. Then my Grandmother and I would spend hours decorating it with old toys, candy, shiny things. Those are some of my dearest and most favorite memories from childhood. After moving here, there was no tree. My Mom and Dad never really had any such traditions, and we didn’t have any extra money for such extras. As a small child, I didn’t really get a vote. So, there was no tree.
When I moved in with Brandon, I thought, finally, I could start to build new holiday traditions. But he had his own baggage, and didn’t believe in the whole tree and what it symbolized religiously thing. At the time we didn’t really have the extra money for one, so I let it go. Though one year, I think back in 2010, I did get a small one, maybe a foot and a half tall, but our cat Sophie immediately tackled it, so that was that.
Then, Brandon and I decided to get married. I remember I sat down one night, crying, and wrote a bunch of stuff, mostly rambling, but the end point was that I wanted and needed traditions. (I need to find that file). I talked to him about it, and though he wasn’t a fan, he humored me and agreed to start our own traditions. This was at the end of 2012. Of course, that was around the time I was finishing school and studying for the board exams. There wasn’t time or want for a tree that year, and I thought, next year, we’ll go all out on Christmas. That was not meant to be, as he died, and in 2013, I wasn’t feeling particularly festive or in the mood. Now it’s the end of 2014, and I thought to myself, “Damnit, I’m having a tree this year.” Come hell or high water, there will be a stupid tree.
So, now there’s a tree. It’s really beautiful. I thought that I would be overcome with emotions, but I wasn’t. I felt nothing that day, except excitement for going through the mundane task of putting it together and decorating. That night, however, when I was alone in the dark, the sadness came. The sadness of Brandon never seeing it, of us never having a beautiful tree together to look at. I wondered if I had pushed harder, if I just went ahead and got a tree, if he had seen how magical it can be, maybe, just maybe, he’d have been a little happier. Maybe he wouldn’t have hated the holidays so much (he once told me he hated them because when he was little his dad made him decorate all the time and do all these things he didn’t want to do), maybe he wouldn’t have gotten drunk and killed himself.
I know the “what if” game is a game you don’t ever win, but it is what it is; I have these thoughts, I sometimes wonder how different things could be if I did this or that. I can hear Wyette right now, “That’s not a productive path of thought, is it?” No, it’s not. I know it. But still, my mind wanders down into those dark, deep woods from time to time.
Sometimes I sit on the couch and just look at the tree. It makes me happy. It makes me sad. Two sides of the same coin. Last time I saw Wyette, I told her how it seems like every time I feel happiness, it is quickly followed by sadness. She said that it is perfectly normal, that Brandon is a shadow I will always feel around me. She thinks its good progress that I’m able to acknowledge the shadow, to see it, to understand it. So yes, every happy thing that happens to me in life now will be tinged with a pang of sad. It is what it is.
Today my manager called me and said that she is leaving work. I understand, she’s been very unhappy with her job for months now. As much understanding as I have, I still found myself tearing up and unhappy. I’m sad she’s leaving. She’s someone who I’ve leaned on after Brandon’s death. She came over the day after I called and told her he was dead that that I wouldn’t be at work for a while and brought food and hugs. She mama-beared me and set up my first session with a therapist, she found out what I had to do to get onto Baptist’s health insurance. She’s the one who saw the beginnings of my first panic attack and rushed me into an empty office, sat with me, let me cry, told me that deep breaths help it stop. Over the past year and a half, I’ve talked to her countless times about my feelings, my anger, my joys. She’s become a friend. I hate that we won’t be working together anymore. I don’t know why this is making me so damn sad and unhappy, but it is. I just want to climb into bed and cry under the covers.
I hate this stretch of time I’m moving into:
Dec.9 – engagement anniversary
Jan. 22 – marriage anniversary
Feb. 14- Valentine’s Day was a big deal to us
Mar. 1 – his death
Apr. 23 – his birthday
Basically, December – April are filled with landmines. The rest of the year is uneventful, with no dates and numbers that burn into my mind. I wonder if it would be better if all of that wasn’t together in one stretch, if it was more spread out. Then again, maybe not. Wyette says I need to think of something positive to do, something productive, something healing, and something that honors Brandon’s memory.
Within the last month I’ve had two dreams that stand out. In one, I was with Brandon’s family, and I was yelling at them. The other, that one was a bit more painful. I dreamt that somehow Brandon came back, and things were back to normal. Then he disappeared. I couldn’t’ find him. He was just gone. I remember in this dream, all of those early, painful, terrible feelings came back. I felt that hell again. I woke up with tears crusted to my eyes. A darkness followed me for days. Just once, just once I wish I could have a normal, happy dream with him. I read all the time how people who lost someone dream about their loved ones, and they’re happy, beautiful dreams, usually with the dead person saying something profound and touching.
It has been 21 months, and I’ve only had 3 dreams of Brandon: the first was someone slashing his neck from behind, the second was when I came home and he was in bed napping, and he told me to crawl in bed with him even though he still had that terrible bruise on his neck, telling me everything was okay, and now this third one. All three are terrible and painful. Just once, I’d love to have one that is happy, one that maybe, just maybe, makes me happy when I wake up, instead of terrified and in tears. But, it appears I’m still experiencing PTSD, so that’s that I suppose. No nice dreams for Val, because her brain is traumatized and hates her.