I've always seen New Year's Eve as a time for reflection. I've never been a party animal, preferring to muse on the year gone by and on my plans for the future. I like to sit, listening to music and making a collage, picking out inspirational images and photos. But today I just can't do it.
Partly it's the memory of making collages with you last year. I still have your collage and mine. I still have your glue. I just don't have you.
I thought Christmas would be the hard part. I thought I would be ok on my own tonight. But I fell in a grief ditch around the twenty-eighth, after I'd triumphed at Christmas and given my daughter a fantastic birthday, after I'd felt so proud for getting through it all. I'd even written my positive New Year blog a few days early. And then something happened, a couple of posts on social media, an aborted trip to the seaside and suddenly I was ambushed by grief again. Grief tripped me up and threw me down a deep hole and I've been struggling to get out ever since. I should have learned by now not to rest on my laurels. Grief goes on and on and on. Grief likes to pounce when I'm not paying attention.
I've been reflecting today on why New Year is so hard in grief and realise that it's the reflecting that is the problem. If I look back at the year that I'm leaving, I see mostly darkness. It was, as I have already said, the worst year of my life. But if I look to the future, I see an emptiness that I have to fill with something new. Sometimes emptiness is exciting. Sometimes it's good to turn over a new leaf, to start a new chapter. But sometimes the blank page is frightening. I have griever's block. I don't know what to do with my future.
Sitting here, on this day, perched between the old year and the new, I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. To look back or to look forwards is equally terrifying. So I'm back in the moment again, noticing my feet on the floor, clinging to my keyboard while the children watch another episode of whatever they're watching on Netflix, feeling the breath coming into and leaving my body, watching thoughts like clouds, knowing that I just need to get through it, that it will pass.
Tomorrow, your death will be last year's news. And maybe that's what I fear the most, the idea that you and I are moving further apart and the idea that somehow I should close the door on grief and embrace a new chapter. But grief goes on and on, with no respect for dates. And love goes on and on too. I will carry both over into the new year. For now I will sit, like patience on a monument, not smiling at grief but breathing and praying for it to be over soon.
Tonight I build myself a fire in my log burning stove and remember the fire that you built on the moors at Redmires at midnight last year. It was a defining moment for me, to have a man strong enough to carry logs and an axe up a mountain but gentle enough to make a collage. You were a rock to hold onto when I floundered and a soft place to land when I fell. You'll be a hard act to follow. Whatever the years ahead hold for me, I will love you and miss you and remember you for the rest of my days.