For 37 years, just before midnight, I would say Happy New Year to the same man. For 37 years, upon waking, I would say Happy New Year, again, to the same man.
Needless to say, I have been stressing and dreading this New Year. I feel I am stepping forward into the future and leaving my husband behind. In 2019, my husband was alive. In 2020, he isn’t. 2020 won’t know him. 2019 knew him. This seems to solidify he is gone.
I have started New Year’s with him for 37 years. How do I not do this?
Well he left me no choice, did he?
In the year’s pre-kids, we would go to nightclubs, drink champagne and ring in the New Year. Once kids arrived, we hosted family parties at our home, making great, great memories. Years later, we rang in the year with the two grandchildren living with us. Most of the time it was just the 4 of us on our little acreage, lighting sparklers and throwing snappy pops. Such a cozy setting.
Fast forward to this year, the oldest grands are in their teens now, doing their own thing. I don’t want to go to any parties – socializing – that would hurt too much. But I don’t want to be home alone. I figured I would go to Waffle House, sit at the counter (because booths are reserved for 2 or more), and have a lonely dinner.
Then I would go home and wait for midnight – counting down by myself. 3 – 2 – 1.
I can’t. I. Just. Can’t.
But the past few days, something started changing in me. I have been feeling the need to socialize more, and not just with my friends in my computer (my Facebook friends). I need face to face contact.
Is my grieving progressing to a new stage? Am I seeing light at the end of the tunnel? Well, I am not to the end the tunnel, because grieving never ends. But grieving does morph, and I am seeing some light. I am coming up for air. I feel I am beginning to breathe again.
Fortunately, a high school friend threw out a rope and saved me from drowning in my pity. She invited me to spend New Year’s at her house, drinking champagne, wearing our jammies and talking the night away. (After all, we have 40 years to catch up on!) We will skip the parties and have a girl’s night in. This is just what I needed. I won’t have to be in a social setting, and I won’t be home alone. The next day, we will cook the required black eye peas and cabbage. Well, she will probably cook. She knows my cooking horror stories and she may not let me in her kitchen.
But I still don’t know if I can say Happy New Year. I am thinking of starting a different tradition, similar to Seinfeld’s Festivus for the Rest of Us. I think I will say, “Glory to the Ordinary.”
Those of us grieving or hurting just want to be ordinary. We don’t want the stigma of being the wife whose husband committed suicide. We don’t want to be the parent who buried his/her child. We don’t want to be the wife/husband whose spouse left them for a ‘newer model.’ Glory to the Ordinary.
Instead of having “Airing of the Grievances,” we will hold “Remembrance of the Non-Descript.” For example, I kiss my husband goodbye as I leave for work. I come home in the evening, opening the front door and smell his famous chili cooking on the stove. Or Saturday mornings when we were feeling lazy and we would linger in bed while watching PBS, and grandkids would climb in with us. Or Sunday Saints’ games, boiling a sack of crawfish. (He took his famous boiled crawfish recipe to the grave with him. I don’t think I will ever taste crawfish again as good as his.) These days, nothing out of the ordinary happened. These were just regular days of existence. Glory to the Ordinary.
We can keep “Feats of Strength,” but this will not entail wrestling. Those of us grieving or hurting show our strength everyday just by getting out of bed, showing up for the day, accomplishing what is necessary, celebrating small victories over our pain and managing to make it to nightfall. Glory to the Ordinary.
We want an ordinary day without the heavy burden of our losses. Glory to the Ordinary.
We don’t want to say Happy New Year, because we really do not feel it.
So to all of us that are hurting as we approach the New Year, I will not say Happy New Year. But I do wish you a Glory to the Ordinary.
“There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18 (NIV)
(Just a note to my U.S. readers – I am finding healing in giving back. My side job – my Avon business – is helping me do that. My daughter, and youth minister son-in-law, have a personal ministry of reaching out to college students in their home on Monday nights – sometimes over 20 people are fed – on a youth minister’s salary! They break bread, play games and speak the gospel. I am tithing my online order proceeds to their ministry. Every little bit helps. Would you please check out my website? If this is your first time ordering Avon online, use code WELCOME10 for 10% off any size order. Your products will be delivered directly to your door. Some of the college students are foreign exchange students. From a hand built table in southern Mississippi, the gospel is managing to be spread around the world. Would you shop from my online store and have a part in spreading God’s word?)