I started writing this Christmas evening and came back to it various other times, but just had a  hard time finishing it – too emotional for me, but now it is finished.  It is about the last Christmas I will be enjoying with my son (who I’ll call Henry) living with me full time.

Christmas, was very hard for me this year, I think in many ways for Henry as well.  The reality is neither of us could get overly motivated to put up the decorations, particularly inside.  Outside was fine; I think the neighborhood was impressed as usual.  Inside was different.  we decorated the tree yesterday morning, after it had been up for two days with just the lights on it.  When doing it I apologized for not having gotten things ready sooner; he said he didn’t mind, he wasn’t motivated to get it done either.  He said he was a bit sad, sad because this will be the last Christmas with me where he lives in the house full time – the plan is for him to go to college near his mother who lives in another state.  I said the same thing made me sad which caused us both to erupt in tears.  For Henry it was about change and the unknown, for me it was more, much more challenging, and in many ways carried more sadness.

For those who read my introduction you’ll know I’ve started the 5th year of the 5-8 estimated I have left by the doctor I saw at Johns Hopkins.  I didn’t mention any of this with Henry and I don’t want to bring it up with him right now.  About a year ago when I started doing some additional treatments in response to the recurrence, we did speak and at the time I told him the probability was I wouldn’t see him graduate college, hard to say, but I think he deserved to know.  I did add that I intended to do everything possible to live long past that, but that at this point, that is how things appear to be progressing.

Back to Christmas.  With most parents, there is the whole of looking forward to our children’s experience going through college, marriage and time with grandchildren – times to find happiness in how well they are doing and perhaps time to pat ourselves on the back for a “job well done” (at least we hope things reflect “well done”).  I read in FB of my HS classmates and other friends who are spending time with children and grandchildren; I see the pictures they post and I feel sad because for Henry there may not be any pictures of grandpa and his kids.  I think Henry’s mom understands of what I speak given her father died when she was 10.  For me it is that I effectively never knew 3 of 4 grandparents so in some ways it is normal not to have grandparents.  But then I think about how much I wanted to do with him, to share before he left and to continue to share as his life progresses.

On Christmas I found myself trying to get him engaged in cooking dinner (Virginia baked ham), making our pie (apple again and it was superb); an attempt to depart things to him, to teach him while I can.  I don’t think he recognized what I was doing; in many ways I’m glad for that, he carries enough of a burden based on what he’s said to his mom.  In the end, what I’m saying is it was strange and difficult.  We both had tried to freeze time as though by not doing the normal preparations we would delay the holiday, and in some ways, life itself.  More so, I think that deep inside we just wanted to avoid recognizing the reality of this Christmas and the sadness that would accompany it.

All said though, after about 1-2 hours of deep sadness and tears, we found the joy of the day.  We had a nice ham dinner; I didn’t make bread as usual, but rather buttermilk biscuits (bought from the store).  We had a nice bottle of red wine with, and after, dinner.  We closed the day by watching the movie “Death at a Funeral” that his mom gave us.  It was a good day, one of the best I ever had with him.

As always, feel free to comment or you may email me at lifeabstractions@gmail.com



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