That dreaded time of year for everyone who has lost a loved one. So, before I do anything else, let's have a listen to Australian Tim Minchin's White Wine in the Sun. It is a beautiful song that, apart from the bit about his daughter, sums up how I feel about the whole thing. Or rather, how I used to feel about it.
The first Christmas without Jane.
Of course my family invited me, or perhaps even assumed, to spend Christmas with them. My parents and my sister and her family. And for some reason that I could not understand, I really realy did not want that. In fact, I could think of nothing worse.
But why? Not because of the company. I love being with my family. They are caring, lovely and have been wonderful throughout all this. And they loved Jane. So what could be better than spending Christmas with people who love me, care for me and know how much I loved Jane. If I cry, they will cry with me. If I laugh, they will understand that joy is likely to be short lived.
It took me a couple of weeks to understand the problem. And even then, I might not be able to fully explain it.
Jane did not have many friends before we met. We were both socially a bit lazy, finding each other's company enough most of the time. So all the people I know in the UK are friends I made whilst we were together. Only a couple of people knew Jane before they knew me.
I have little or no real contact with Jane's family. I have met her mother twice since the funeral and her sister has vanished to Oxford. We were never really close. So I basically very very rarely have any contact with people from Jane's past. People who "represent" Jane. People who knew and loved Jane before I did. People with stories I don't know. People who were part of her life before I was. People who can "represent" her.
My friends will ask me how I am. And I tell them. Sometimes I even cry when I tell them. But there is very little Jane in my life because most people around me have been in my life at most 6 years and I have no connection with Jane and her past through them.
Apart from a couple of Jane's friends from school.
They are the closest thing to Jane I still have. Even if they were not my closest friends (one of them I only really met last year), they were important to Jane and so they are important to me. They are my link to a part of Jane that is forever lost to me. They have memories that I will now only be able to get from them because Jane can't tell me anymore. Oh, and the fact that I actually really like them...
And one of them invited me over for Christmas. In the USA where she now lives. And I am going.
Not so I can spend the entire Christmas talking about Jane. But for some reason the unspoken connection really matters to me.
But all this had to sort itself out in my head before I could tell my family I was going to spend Christmas not with the people who love me most but with a friend I have only recently come to know. Otherwise it would sound like I was simply saying: I just don't want to spend Christmas with you.
So there it is. My first Christmas without Jane. It will be horrible. Excruciating. With hopefully some enjoyable bits. But surviving it is the best I can aim for right now.