Just a quick update today to let you know I can conclusively prove there is no such thing as tempting fate!
A couple weeks ago at the start of December I wrote Tempting fate this Christmas? and explained my concerns about getting too confident that we would manage another Christmas with my Dad (who is terminally ill with cancer) and my grandparents (who are in their 90s and if they’re terminally anything, it’s terminally stoic). Well we did and a great time was had by all. A couple days before Christmas the results of my Dad’s latest blood tests showed he is fighting an infection, I guess in normal circumstances this wouldn’t be great news, but in some twisted way we all took it as though it is. So far, Dad’s experience is that infections (on the whole) at the moment still seem to respond quite well to antibiotics, it meant that it wasn’t anything explicitly linked to the tumour growing/his condition worsening, and it explained why he’d been feeling rough; although in true Dad fashion he didn’t realise he was rough, until after he’d started taking antibiotics – he seriously should be a clinical case study in positive mental attitude.
So Christmas Day came and went without anything much of note happening. Christmas dinner with my folks and grandfolks was fantastic, managed to eat enough to last a week, my grandparents were in good form and effusive about the support my parents provide them (a relatively unusual situation) and my superwoman Mum cooked a full dinner which was followed by my Gran’s Christmas Pud – alcohol free this year (as in we didn’t light it), although she reassured me there was enough in it not to matter! It was striking seeing my grandparents out of their own environment (I usually visit them in their own home) and then seeing their confidence grow when they got home, it was also lovely to see my Mum get some recognition for all the support she provides them all year round. I suspect it’s probably a generational thing but they’re not the most forthcoming with open praise, they show their approval in other ways, but they were both positively outspoken this year, which was lovely, my Grandad claiming it was one of the best Christmas dinner’s he’d ever had (and with 93 to choose between that’s high praise indeed).
The other thing that I did a lot of on Christmas Day (in a non-morbid way) was imagine a little about how different things are likely to be next year. This isn’t a melancholic thought, so much as a practical trying-to-prepare-oneself thought process. Last year I never could have imagined we’d have another family Christmas, this year it seems like too much of a gift not to imagine what Christmas 2012 will pan out like! At the moment (high on the reality of Christmas 2011) I’m relatively comfortable with this thought process, I suspect a lot will depend on how many people will be around to sit at the table next year, something we obviously can’t predict but I’m comfortable discussing, given I’ve disproved their being any danger in tempting fate!
Two people who faced a new rendition of Christmas this year, and who were in my thoughts during that process, were Becca (whose brother was killed in Afghanistan in September) who wrote about Christmas on her new laptop:
So, although JJ’s not here, I’m pleased to say that it’s not been all too sad. He’s been talked about all day – we’ve had a few laughs and a few tears. More laughs than tears I’m pleased to say. And later on tonight we’ll raise a glass in memory to him, and to others that have not returned home to their families.
We mulled our strategies for this first Christmas after dad’s death in advance, and agreed we wouldn’t try to reincarnate any other year, wouldn’t try to resurrect much-loved stories with the key character missing. It felt like time to set a new stage.
I’m not sure what Christmas 2012 will look or feel like, but at the moment I’m not too worried about it, I’m still in the throws of gratitude that Christmas 2011 went so well, that I got to sit and reminisce with both my parents and grandparents, that I got to spend it with the people that matter to me most. I take hope from hearing how other people have experienced their first Christmas without a loved one, and I hope that anyone who reads this has similarly enjoyed their own Christmas, that those who have lost someone and missed them terribly realise that life may not be the same, but it does go on, and they’d have wanted you to go easy on yourself. Happy Christmas everyone.