Sunday, February 21, 2016

New Normal?

It has been five years since my mom passed.  Five. This year marked my sixth birthday and holiday season without her.  It's amazing that I still struggle to find my new normal.  Every year, something happens that digs in and reminds that there is a time of my life to which I can never return.  That part of my life has been boxed up and passed on.  The last house I lived in with my parents was sold and remodeled, looking unrecognizable.  Most of the pictures are 1,500 miles away. The artwork and awkward projects have been long lost in various moves.  

The breakdown happens every year.  After five years, I am able to control it and really make it mine.  The tear works that erupted without warning now know how to contain themselves until the moment is right.  Five years ago, I ran into another room to break down because someone changed the channel off of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, something we watched every year at my house.  Eagerly, we would wait to see our favorite pop stars glide through the cold weather.  I marveled at the marching bands, wishing that my parent's budget allowed music lessons.  On the first Thanksgiving without my mom, I needed to watch that parade.  However, I felt silly vocalizing this need.  Crying in the bedroom seemed a much saner choice.  

For the first five New Years Eves as a mother, I fell asleep before the ball dropped, sometimes fifteen minutes before the new year began.  Last year, I managed to stay awake.  And, for the first time ever, my mom didn't call to wish me a happy new year.  This year, I vowed to stay awake as well.  About twenty minutes before midnight, a bit in my stomach formed.  This was another year that would begin without a call from my mom.  I was ready to run upstairs and force myself to fall asleep.  That's the thing about the new normal; you never know when it will sneak up on you.  

I've come to understand that this breakdown is a new normal in my holiday preparations.  It surfaces several times throughout the season.  However, after my rookie year, I've learned to control it and release when the right time allows.  This year, I waited until I was wrapping gifts.  My mom never wrapped everything in the stocking.  I always swore that, when I was in charge of stockings, everything would be wrapped.  I've lived to regret this decision.  I am also aware that giving up wrapping everything would provide a victory for my mother.  Every from the grave, I cannot allow that.  

A dear friend of mine lost her mom this year.  In one of our conversations, I told her that it never really gets easier, you just adjust to your new normal.  It is different for everyone.  For me, my first round of holidays without my mom was also my first round of holidays with my son.  While it was difficult, new life made it easier to transition to that new reality.  However, the overwhelming urge to run to another room for a quick cry still hits at the oddest of moments.