Friend, I See You

Dear friend whose partner left this earth this year, but whose family demands that traditions continue,

Traditions like eggnog and gifts and smiling and getting out of bed,

I see you wanting to shout,

“Doesn’t ‘tradition’ mean doing things the way they’ve been done before?

Well, that will be impossible.

Things cannot be the same.

The most important person in my life is gone.”

I hear that shout, even as you stifle it for the crowd, while you

drink eggnog, open gifts, and smile and get out of bed.

Because, “that’s what we do this time of year!”

Friend, I see you.

Dear friend whose partner’s health is declining,

Who knows that the week ahead will bring procedures, hospitalization, unknown outcomes.

Who, today, clings to eggnog and gifts and smiling and getting out of bed,

because if today lasts forever, then perhaps tomorrow will not come.

Who squeezes every ounce of goodness out of this day of festivity, because this is what people who don’t have hospitalization looming do.

They drink eggnog, open gifts, smile, and get out of bed.

This week’s schedule will look nothing like that of the general public,

which means that today you do everything you can to be as normal as possible.

Friend, I see you.

Dear friend whose partner is in the hospital,

Who will pour eggnog in a thermos, stack presents in a bag, and carry them through the abandoned lobby of the hospital,

past the darkened coffee shop, through the quiet halls,

knowing full well that the quiet here means that at homes around the area people are with their families,

gathered around fireplaces, drinking nog out of festive cups, not thermoses, opening gifts by a tree, not a hospital bed.

These people have the option of taking a day off from this hospital,

but not you.

Your beloved is here,

and therefore,

so are you,

thermos and bag in hand.

And before you enter the room you’ll put on a smile,

happy to see your love,

but wishing it wasn’t here.

Friend, I see you.

Dear friend whose beloved partner, child, friend, parent is missing today,

YES, I’m sure there are things in your life for which to be merry

AND

you get to say, today, and any other day you want:

THIS IS TERRIBLE. I MISS MY PERSON. NOTHING IS THE SAME WITHOUT THEM.

If, today, or any day, it feels good and helpful to look for and list those things that are positive,

please do.

And know that today, in the storm of “Happy Holidays” posts, tweets, and greeting cards,

you can say, think, feel, know, that

THIS IS TERRIBLE. I MISS MY PERSON. NOTHING IS THE SAME WITHOUT THEM.

Friend, I see you and we miss them too.

Dear friends who have hard things,

I see you today.

I see you getting out of bed, smiling, drinking eggnog and opening gifts.

I see you thinking about who sat in that chair last year at this time.

I see you watching your beloved with concern about what will happen between now and next Christmas.

I see you being asked how things are, and giving answers that only scratch the surface,

so that this doesn’t go down as the Christmas that you cried in your eggnog and made things awkward.

I see you using all of your energy to smile, make small talk, act as if all is well.

I see you excusing yourself to the bathroom when a comment is made that for reasons no one but you would understand, unleashes emotions that you’re trying so hard to keep zipped up for the day.

I see you.

I love you.

I know that all that hangs out in your negative space may not be welcome or comfortable at your Christmas gathering today,

but know that today, and always,

it is safe here with me.