My six-year old, Sam, says this year is going to be the best Christmas for his sister Florence, who at two is at the perfect age for taking in all the magic and wonder of this time of year.
That magic and wonder isn’t there for everyone though, and it certainly isn’t the same for me as it’s going to be my first Christmas as a widow.
Everyone says the first year after a bereavement is the toughest, as you experience all these special dates for the first time without the person you really want there.
When Sam says he’s going to make this the best year ever for Flo, he really means it and it makes me smile despite knowing it will be far from the best one for me. He wants his dad here, of course he does, but he’s still so young and Christmas to him is all about fun, Father Christmas, and feeling festive.
I’m trying to focus on the kids and share their excitement, but you know my heart just isn’t really in it.
Everywhere I look I’m reminded of how I should be spending the time with those I love, my family – my husband and my children’s daddy. We should be getting excited together, watching the kids’ faces light up as they see the tree go up, the lights come on and the grottos open. They should have their dad here to join in with the hype, the magic of this time of year, but they don’t. All they have is their frazzled mum, bursting into tears over the strangest of things, and although I’m trying my best I know I can’t give them what the should have, what all their friends have – a dad.
As the weeks go by, I seem to be having a dip in how I’m feeling and think I’ve cried every single day in as long as I can remember.
The thing is, I just really, really miss Rog. He was my best friend, my work friend, my soul mate, and without him I’m not strong. What it comes down to is I want him here to talk to, to spend time with and to live my life with, and that’s just not going to happen.
I can’t tell you the places I’ve cried lately – on the train, at the shops, in the playground, it’s so unpredictable.
It’s always been the small things that set me off but they seem to be everywhere right now.
I walk into John Lewis through the men’s department, and think what I’d buy him.
I wonder what I’d choose if he were here, which shirt, which jumper, which book. What he’d choose for the kids if he were here, as he would always left the shopping to me and then bought them the frivolous, fun stuff at the last minute.
Well he did for Sam anyway – there was that Buzz Lightyear onesie that made him look like he was a member of The Darkness – we laughed so much together at that.
He couldn’t do that for Florence. I know he would have loved to but he was just too poorly. It’s hard to believe that this time last year we managed to do some of the Christmas traditions we always did together. We put up the tree, went to the Christmas concert at the Liverpool Philharmonic – we even managed a date night at our favourite Spanish restaurant.
This year we won’t be so lucky. This year he’s not here and all I’ll do is miss him.
This year I’ll do all the shopping myself. All the wrapping.
This year I’ll not be going to any Christmas dos. I’ll be taking the kids to the Light up a Life service at the hospice and crying buckets because my husband’s not here.
This year I’ve got no one to go home to and cuddle when I cry on the train. I’ve got the kids, but their arms just aren’t as big, and they make a lot more noise. They’re usually not so sympathetic to their tearful mum either, usually when I cry it’s met with a telling off from Sam, who hates to see me upset.
He likes his mum to be brave, happy and superhuman – isn’t that what we all want our mums to be like when we’re kids?
I know that when Christmas comes I will be brave, and the actual day will be much better than the build-up. We’re going to spend it with my parents, my sister and her family and there will be so many happy kids around I know I’ll find it hard to feel too sad – or even have the time!
But on Christmas Day I’ll be thinking of Rog, wherever his soul may be, and sending him all the love in the world.