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  • Sudha

Christmas 2021 and New Year!

Where have the last 2 months gone? In a flurry of tears, laughter, worries and love. They have been the toughest I’ve been through in 2+ years and I have found this period worse than 2019. Paul’s anniversary, Christmas, New Year and our wedding anniversary today – all in the space of a month.

I have been struggling to function much and so have been doing the bare minimum - work, school run and meals. I’ve been slack on the whole balanced family dinner some days – toast for dinner, anyone?!!

Baptism by fire is the best way to describe my experience parenting teenage boys single-handedly – picking drunk teenagers up from parties, cleaning sick and nursing hangovers.

The boys are growing up so fast I can’t keep pace. One minute Andrew was this little boy who was always super cuddly and the next I have this 6’1” tall young man who cringes when I hug him and spends every waking hour in his room.

Parenting is hardest at the best of times but being suddenly thrown into the role of a grieving single parent has been unbearably difficult. The boys no longer have the good cop to balance my screaming fits. I no longer have my sounding board and the voice of reason to assure me that I am being a good parent.

I have come a long way in the last 2 years to try and be both good and bad cop for the boys. I cut them some slack knowing that they are silently struggling but then I worry that I am not bringing them up to be independent, responsible adults in the open world.

I tried to throw myself into Christmas planning. It felt like I was going through the motions without feeling that warmth deep inside; but I soldiered on as I didn’t want to break the cycle for the boys.

I tasked Lynn and Alison with finding me a branch while out on their dog walks so that I can use it as this year’s advent calendar for the boys. We ended up with a very tall but a beautifully shaped branch.

I painted it white and planted it in a pot using plaster of Paris to weigh it down. I bought clear baubles, holly and poinsettias to decorate the tree.

I filled the baubles with chocolates and tied lights around the branches. I enjoyed doing this and it kept me sane for a few days. The 1st of December was a special gift from the Royal Mint which I thought would excite the boys and get them into the Christmas mood. If I am honest with myself, I don't think it had the desired effect; they were polite and duly said they were excited to see the tree but I sensed that they were also masking their pain that goes hand in hand with the season.

Four days later we were decorating the Christmas tree outside the Methodist Chapel - which we can see from our landing window. We had about 30-35 friends join us on the evening of the 4th to light the Christmas tree and raise a glass of Gluhwein in Paul's memory. I have never seen the boys so sad ever and this did not go unnoticed by some friends either. Perhaps next year I need to do things differently.

While planning Christmas, Andrew came out with ‘Mum, I don’t want to spend Christmas at home again’. What do you do with that?!

We did a fair bit of brainstorming and finally decided to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights and spend Christmas there. But covid made sure we couldn’t go anywhere out of the UK. So, we spent a few days in Edinburgh. I can honestly say that while it wasn’t our typical, traditional Christmas, it felt just right. We had a fab time there taking in the sights, visiting the Christmas market, eating and drinking a fair amount. Harry’s latest tipple is Drambuie! I’ve tasted better cough syrups – that’s all I can say.

We have started the new year as a stronger, closer family. I even get unprompted kisses from Harry! The boys are a constant worry for me and as they are changing and battling with teen hormones, I know I need to always keep a close watch on them while allowing them to spread their wings and allowing them to learn from their mistakes. I just hope these mistakes are within reason and become good life lessons.

I have made no major resolutions this year except a silent promise to Paul that I will continue to be the best parent I can be to Harry and Andrew.

I have been wondering lately if my whatsapp profile photo somehow has been hindering the boys from ‘moving forward’. It is a constant reminder for me about the love I lost but the love I want to remember and cherish forever. But I didn't want it to be a constant trigger for the boys' pain either. And so I changed my profile photo and I also changed my phone’s wallpaper and screensaver.

It was lovely that the change was noticed by many friends and family but a handful took that as an indicator that I am ‘moving on’. Someone even said ‘you will be snapped up very quickly’. They were made with the best intentions and so I wasn’t offended but definitely shaken to the core when I heard them. I made the changes thinking of how they may help the boys with their grieving process / progress.

I don’t know what other changes are in store for me in 2022. All I know is that change is certain. I just have to adapt to whatever change is coming – planned or unplanned. Bring it on!

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