|Christmas 2012 - Our last with Judy|
Now that that little disclaimer is out of the way, I want to talk about Christmas.
This was our 3rd holiday without Judy. Each year, her absence is profound as Christmas was her most favorite time of the year. We can only imagine how that would have hit a fever pitch with Presley's arrival, and the loss for our littlest mini-human hits us hard. It's also difficult for me, personally, because of the way our family crumbled after Judy's passing. Literally one day later, we became estranged from Justin's sister, and in the course of a couple months, our relationship with our nephew and niece became strained, too. Now we have absolutely no contact with our oldest nephew and the little contact we had with our niece has dwindled down to nearly nothing, too. We thankfully have maintained a relationship with Justin's Dad, so our holidays are always spent with him, and we see him about 3 days a week throughout the year.
In spite of the silly dramatics that would transpire on the holidays, I loved being a part of a good-sized, tight-knit family. I know the damage that has been done is irreparable and that we will never have a relationship with Justin's sister again, but I still miss it. I know what Judy would have wanted, and that's for us to find a way to get over our differences and be together, if only on the holidays. No matter how much Brenda wronged her, she always forgave and loved her in spite of herself. I don't know if that was self-destructive on Judy's part, or if her capacity for love for her children was just that strong. Either way, I think she would understand our reason and need to be estranged, but she would actively try to "fix" it if she were here. I know that we will never see eye-to-eye on how things were handled after Judy's passing. His sister felt slighted because we handled everything, although she was the one who backed off and didn't want anything to do with the arrangements. She only mentioned wanting money, even mentioning that in the hospital while Judy was still on life support. Her behavior was DEPLORABLE and DISGUSTING to a shocking degree, and that sort of personality is poison. Keeping that in mind, I still find myself mourning our broken family, as dysfunctional and toxic as it could be.
|Christmas Eve 2015 - Despite the look on her face,|
Trin actually wanted me to take this
picture of her & Presley.
On the flip side of that, we had our youngest nephew and my Mom over to our house on Christmas Eve. What started as a plan to have my Mom with us for 3 or so hours turned into almost 8 hours. We did a little shopping for the kids, had lunch, watched Christmas movies all day long, and then ate dinner before taking her home. Then on Christmas morning, we picked her up around noon and didn't take her back home until nearly 8pm. She had bought the kids some gifts, and I had procured gifts for her ala the Bloggess' amazing annual Saint James Garfield Miracle post. (Seriously, I could NOT have gotten her anything if it weren't for Jenny Lawson's awe-inspiring encouragement for people to help one another!) Mom loved her gifts, and seemed so content and happy spending the better part of the last 2 days with us. On my end, it was pretty interesting to have her around for such a length of time and not finding myself annoyed or frustrated.
For as long as I can remember, my adult life has been chock full of moments where spending time with my Mom was a form of torture. Our personalities are very different, but it was the way she would comment about all the things I was doing w/ my child(ren) was the same as what she did with her children, which was blatantly NOT TRUE. I would cringe every time she compared our parenting, and anytime she was around, my entire body would become tense until hours after she'd leave. I dreaded time together with her because of this. Now, though, I have discovered this unending well of patience and love for my Mom, in spite of all we've been through. Having a doctor confirm what I've suspected for a few years, and having her sober again, has been a miracle and has given me the umph I needed to step up my daughter game. While stressful and exhausting, the fact that I was the one who was there, every single day, advocating for her and finally getting her into a wonderful foster home, has healed me in so many ways. I feel stronger and I have forgiven myself for all the years I wasn't there for my Mom like I should have been. There is still underlying guilt that I should have done more sooner, but I am able to look past that somewhat because I know I did a lot lately that many people in my shoes wouldn't have done. Hell, my own brother didn't even visit her once in the 4 weeks & 6 days she was in the hospital. She's been in her new home nearly 2 weeks and he hasn't even asked how she's doing or where it's at. (Though she asked me not to tell him. She wants nothing to do with him. Since the feeling is mutual, I don't think that will ever come up.)
So while our family dynamic has shifted a lot in the last few years, I see some positive changes happening and it feels good. Really good. Really, really, really good. Justin & his Dad still buy way too many presents for the kids, I still get frustrated and cry when Justin buys me presents b/c I can't buy him any, and I still end the day absolutely wrung out from all the cooking, cleaning, and tending to things that I do. But it's the holiday tradition and if the day ever comes when I don't end the night in a snoring heap on the couch, it will be a sad day. Because this is my life. Good, bad, and sometimes ugly...it's all a blessing.