It’s hard to believe it’s already (yet only) been six weeks since Mike passed. Christmas is fast approaching, as well as what would have been our 13th wedding anniversary; a day I had felt so blessed to celebrate and honored to have near Christmas. The day now taunts me, tapping me on the shoulder, “Excuse me, hello, remember me? I’m the joy, magic, and happiness that this season brings–everything you used to have.”

This year, I’m going through the motions, but there’s no there there. Decorating the house, getting a tree, listening to holiday music, none of it brings me any joy. Filling the house with fun whimsical holiday décor doesn’t bring back the energy and fun-loving spirit of the one I loved. In recently coming across a video, I was harshly reminded of this very fact. Mike was doing a bike review of a new purchase. He was getting ready to add the part to the bike, and had to “sand it down” a bit with a Dremel. All of a sudden you hear him say, “It’s Dremel time,” and then hums the beat to U Can’t Touch This, laughing all-the-while. That energy, that fun-loving, embracing life spirit is now just gone.

In years past, I travelled a lot, both with and without Mike. Sometimes it was for work, sometimes it was to visit friend’s or family, sometimes it was for a freelance project. No matter where I went (when it wasn’t with him–which wasn’t too often), I always felt homesick within a few days. I never made how I felt public knowledge, but I always just assumed I missed our village, our home, him, our pets. That was home, and I would always tell myself in the back of my head that I would be there again soon–where I belonged. That’s what made us so great, while we were stronger together, we were also individuals, and we each cherished the aspirations and passions of the other. So, even though I always felt homesick, I also knew that I was just temporarily away from him.

However, recently I went out of town for a few days, just to get out of dodge. I felt anxious about leaving “him” at home alone. I felt anxious about not having my dogs with me. But as each day ticked by, I realized I didn’t feel homesick like I normally would have. Then it hit me–it wasn’t our home, our village, our stuff that made me homesick, it was him. Mike was my home. No matter where I went, I knew I was going home to him. Whenever he and I travelled together, as long as we had our dogs with us, I never felt homesick because he was my home. My heart, my soul, my home was him. He was that feeling, that cozy, butterfly in the stomach feeling when you just know you’re at peace and safe, and…..home. Now that he’s gone, I don’t know where home is anymore. I don’t know what feels like home, so I go through the motions. I walk through the day watching each step, like I’m walking through a minefield, carefully trying to navigate this very foreign feeling. It’s part of a collective, a set of feelings that fade in and out through a dense fog, not really revealing themselves, yet making their presence known before disappearing again. In realizing my “home” is gone, it set off a chain reaction of feelings that I didn’t realize were laying dormant beneath the surface. One of those feeling’s brutally dangled in front of me today as I ran into a nurse that used to treat Mike. She got choked up, so did I. She asked what happened, saying she became worried when she hadn’t seen us in a while, (she wasn’t one of his nurses at Roswell, but treated him before his diagnosis took the turn it did). I explained. She looked at me and said, “They broke the mold when they made him. He was one of our absolute favorite patient’s. Mike was not just one of the good ones, he was so unique, the love you two shared was so different, so special. You’ll never find anyone like him again.” Well-intentioned as it was, she mentioned out loud what had been hiding in the fog in my head–I’ll never have that again. As I left the store, fumbling with the groceries, my sense of homelessness (not literally) hit me again. Forcefully, I pushed the groceries in the car, strapped myself in, sanitized my hands, and kept my eyes on the road ahead, ignoring all other feeling.

So, while the house is decorated and the tree is up (with thanks to a very dear friend who hand-delivered it to me from his family tree farm), the energy and magic of the holiday is stuck in the dense fog. No matter how I dress it up or walk through the holiday season, it doesn’t feel normal, familiar, peaceful. It’s not home. And, while I won’t be alone this holiday (as no one should after losing their spouse), I will be sharing my Christmas with those whose holidays are also different this year due to isolation from the pandemic, loss, or hard times, by volunteering for meal delivery and have donated necessary items for the homeless.

Maybe, one day, I’ll find a new meaning for home. May Grace. Guidance. Gratitude light your way.

 

 

 

 

Published by smtraphagen

SM Traphagen is a writer and novelist. Her works have appeared on Buffaloeats.org, Accounting Today Magazine, St. Reds Magazine, The Culture-ist Magazine, Buffalo Healthy Living Magazine, among others. With a fiction novel written, the hope is to expand the world of fiction in fun and creative ways. Her love of writing fiction and food have culminated in a website that blends the two, including Digestion Suggestion and Untold Shorties.

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