Friday, December 18, 2015

Remembering Kevin at Christmas time

Kevin loved Christmas. He loved decorating the tree and the house, placing electric candles in every window. He loved putting together Christmas playlists. He loved picking out and cutting down a tree. He loved making challah with his daughter and staying up late with me as we wrapped the gifts. He loved having all of our friends over for dinner on Christmas day. He loved all of it.

Christmas was historically more challenging for me. It was a stressful time and held some difficult associations, until I fell in love with Kevin. His joy was infectious. How could I not enjoy Christmas when it made him glow like a little boy? Together we believed in Santa. We were Santa.

New Year's varied. Some years we performed in Boston's First Night celebration. It was great fun telling stories to hundreds of happy people. We would walk to the subway afterwards, hand-in-hand in the cold, and make our way home to toast in the new year. Other years we stayed home and watching the Twilight Zone marathon on Syfy. We would share memories of each episode and then around midnight make our way to bed for a more private celebration.

All of these memories are sweet and I reach back to them as we move through the holidays. They live side-by-side with the memories from our last Christmas and New Year's. We didn't know it yet, but cancer was eating him alive. He could barely eat any of Christmas dinner and on New Year's Eve we went to bed well before midnight, where he immediately fell asleep only to waken several hours later, pain coursing through him. I held him as he writhed and I remember thinking this wasn't an auspicious start to 2014.

We didn't know how precious that last holiday season was. I know now.

All of these memories and more sweep through me. This will be my second Christmas and New Year's without him. It will be my second Christmas celebrating with his kids, where they will keep an eye on me to make sure I'm okay, or as okay as I can be. It will be my first New Year's with my new love, the first time he and I will make tentative new rituals. I'm sure one of those rituals will be my tears. My new home is undecorated. I haven't the heart to do it this year.

Even with these waves of sorrow, what matters most is the love. The sweet memories are far stronger than the pain, even when I am lost in that endless moment. I think of Kevin with gratitude and joy and love him no less now than I did when he was alive. Hope leaks into my life even if I resist it.

This is the season of light in the darkness. This is the season of the birth of hope and possibility. This is the season of gratitude and love.

I am so lucky to have been loved so well, to love so well, to be loved again.

I look to the night sky, to the stars and the moon and the clarity of the air, and I see Kevin's face. I see my past and I see my future. I see the universe and my tiny place in it. I keep him alive as long as I remember him. I keep hope alive as long as I am open to life, to love, to possibility.

I am so grateful.

(c)2015 Laura S. Packer

p.s. The photo above was taken in December 2013. This was our last Christmas. He was the brightest thing in that room. The tree dimmed in comparison. Creative Commons License


  1. Yes, what matters is the love. Always.

  2. Laura, as always your post makes my heart break open and swell with love for you and Kevin and everyone in my life that I love. Be well, be happy, be with love.


True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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