I have done a real run around this Christmas season. For the past three weeks my life has been fully booked up. Last year, three months after Ray's death and a month after Mum's I simply sat around, only attended what I had to do, for the rest of the time I cried or just sat there feeling miserable. This year I was determined I would say yes to invitations so I did - all of them. Boy was that tiring, two and maybe three things to do in one day so it was hop in the car, drive here, drive back there, hitting home at 7, 8, 9 o'clock at night, much later if I had an evening engagement too.
So silly and I will not be doing that again. Next year I will prioritize, go the places I like going and say no prettily to the rest. This year I have been trying to work on a "new normal" or at least somewhat of a return to the old normal, or what normal would have looked like if I didn't have the caregiving duties. Don't get me wrong, I managed to go a lot of places with Ray in a wheelchair but when you take someone in a wheelchair to a new place then you stand by them pretty much all of the time and social interaction is almost impossible.
For one thing going anywhere different with an invalid in a wheelchair toiletting issues dominate your thinking and then there is the question of whether the food is suitable, soft enough and whether your husband will have a coughing episode in the middle of it and you will have to retire to a safe place while you do a discreet clean-up. I know I got used to life being that way but it was never easy. Now somehow I have to make the transition to being Sue alone again. And that is not easy either.
A widow has only so much energy to put into things. To get things into perspective think summer, end-of-year and Christmas activities all rolled into one. Light in the sky from 5am till about 9pm and eating, drinking, looking interested and trying to smile most of those afternoon and evening hours...very very tiring. More so because it goes against your feelings of wanting to be there only if that special person you have lost could be there with you too. On your own - no fun.
And so today, the first day without the frantic activity, I feel as if I am running on empty. I have done all I have to do in the community, finished my social calendar, done the home communions, attended the last meeting. There are a couple of things I may or may not turn up to, both of the Open House nature so I will not be missed if I do not go. I am lucky to have had so many invitations, I know that, so it is mean minded to complain about it now it is over, I know that too, but it is emotionally draining and physically exhausting to suddenly ramp up to what can be a very busy season here.
So I agree that a nice cool cave would suffice for a month or so while I recover, but hey! that is not going to happen is it? I still have Christmas to face and it is Christmas night and Boxing Day at my house and apart from having the meats waiting in the freezer and the list of groceries to buy on the fridge I am not prepared at all, in fact I am still wondering how everyone is going to eat, where everyone is going to sleep. If it is fine weather I will cope, kids love out on the verandah for breakfast, out on the back lawn for lunch and dinner at night we will manage with all of us inside. Hopefully if it is warm we will take the kids to the lake or the beach in a shallow spot for a swim. But if it is colder then we will have to find another way of keeping them entertained.
How I long for Ray to be here, not in his wheelchair but in BBQ mode with a plate of steaks in his hand and a red hot grill in front of him, while the kids run around the lawn and the adults sit in the shade socializing and renewing the family bonds. But that is a pipe dream isn't it? Life is never going to be like that again. It is Sue alone, it is still lunch at Granny's house but with that empty chair where Pa Ray ought to be. It will never be the same but somehow I have to cope with that.