Every year of our lives together, Tom and I would get special Xmas ornaments for the tree.
I brought a lot into the marriage as did he, but we also got rid of a lot when we got married because we wanted to make our own tree, our own life.
Every year we would buy a few ornaments we loved, and often they were very significant, in some way descriptive of the year we had just gone through. When our son came along we continued and added him in, so of course we have a baby’s 1st Xmas, and ornaments he actually made through the years. Our tree was very personal. Pretty much every ornament had been chosen by either both or all 3 of us, and those that weren’t were fun and sentimental to each of us on our own. One year I bought letter ornaments; an M, a B and a T and put them on the tree surrounded by our special ornaments. Actually, I think that was the last Xmas we had together. I remember that in the kid’s section that year we hung a crazy looking dog ornament, to let him know that it was time to get that dog he always wanted.
The dog ornament is descriptive, just like the Cowardly Lion ornament the year our son played that in his school play, the “I’m all in” hand of cards that Tom got in his stocking the year he was possessed with a great zeal for Texas Hold ‘Em poker, the beautiful Iris ornament I got the year a dear lady who raised them died. There was a Starbuck’s Santa, and a BBQ, a Vikings and Kings ball, a musical theatre ornament. There was a Harry Potter and a soccer ornament. An Italian pitcher, a hippie Santa and a bottle of chardonnay (Hah!). It was important.
When Tom died I held on to that tradition, I had to. I would buy a descriptive ornament for my son and myself, and one for Tom. One year a heart that said “I love you”, one year a snowman with wings that is dated 2007. I still put up the big tree, with the B and the M and the T, and our ornaments placed just so.
Last year that stopped. Little steps. I enjoyed the house with LESS…. this year it’s less still, pretty and less. I do have a Xmas tree, a Charley Brown, and it has some beautiful, meaningful ornaments on it. For me and my son.
I also have a little metal “tree” that I used to hang little angels on every year. I decided to place it on a table and hang Tom’s special ornaments on it this year. It was pretty, it felt right. I liked the idea. I took a picture of it.
Last night amidst the excitement of guests and playing, my dog bumped an air mattress into the table and knocked Tom’s tree over.
I stared in horror, burst into tears, excused myself and, incredibly quickly, got over it. Came back out, cleaned up and went on with the night. I couldn’t LOOK at it though, I couldn’t assess the damage. The guests were going to bed so I didn’t have time, but, truly, I couldn’t face it. I heard the sound, I saw it fall over, I felt such loss and I felt so helpless and out of control…
Those are feelings I do not like. Those are feelings that would have driven me right to the freezer and the icy bottle of vodka, the numb, the great numb.
Instead I made a cup of tea and got some ginger cookies. I got into bed (yes, with cookies, MY bed, no judgement!) and got on the computer. I posted the picture that I had of the “tree” to my secret Alky page on FaceBook, I texted my sponsor, I prayed and asked for help from the universe, for peace. I knew I would get responses from my friends, and I knew that I could also offer some support to others who were having a tough time, tougher then me. Tougher than me, always, there is always someone having it tougher than me, and in helping I am helped.
What I did last night was what I have been taught. To use tools at my disposal to work through situations so that I can feel my feelings, have my moments, live my life and NOT have to drink over all of it. To give service. It’s been a stressful time, the Holidays, the guests, the guests that are maybe not guests now…..so much more that doesn’t even matter.
A couple of things matter, and one is that I am very grateful that I have those tools, and the ability to remember to use them. I wouldn’t have them without the program of AA. I don’t think I have ever said that straight out here on this blog, but there it is. When I needed help and knew I could not do it alone, AA helped. AA matters, to me and countless others.
The other thing that matters is that I HAD Tom in my life. I don’t need some silly ornaments to remember him. One of the badly broken ornaments had our names on it, Tom and Michele. I really loved that one, it was so simple but it said “we were”. But WE were! I know that, why does that little ball of glass mean anything more than what was real? It doesn’t. Nor do any of the other ornaments, they are all symbols of what was, of what IS. Weirdly, I have this urge to go break all the rest of them. I won’t, DUH! But I understand that urge. Not the anger and grief that wants to lash out, but the love that understands that those THINGS don’t matter, never did, never will. And I can take that understanding out into my life in such a meaningful way…when I remember that And that matters.
I believe in winks…there are other blog posts about that. What part of me didn’t see this one? In a year of divesting, of working, slowly, but working, towards the goal of letting go of this house, of moving on in new ways in my life, what part of me didn’t immediately recognize the import of the crashing of the Tom tree while members of his family were in my house. And, weirdly, may not be back, even though they were supposed to stay a week. Did they just need to be here to precipitate the crash? They’ve moved on, literally it seems. I’m still here. Less a few pieces of glass, full of fantastic memories of someone who was the world to me.
Today two of my dearest friends listened to me, offering support and, in one case, soup! A couple of my AA friends texted me, checking on me. Two of them knew me and Tom, are witnesses to the truth of us. Two know only me, my struggles and deepest fears.
Today THAT matters. That is what is real and good and perfect in my life, that is what can help me through any horrible troubles and the petty insults of broken glass memories.
That was the wink, and the message.
Thank you friends, thank you Universe, thank you Tom.
Now I think I’m going to go gently put some glass memories away.