Last Christmas was the first one I shared with Ryan. We didn’t experience it in person, as we only met in real life December 6th, and two trips across the country in a month wasn’t a possibility. We opened our presents together over the phone. He picked all wonderful gifts which showed even in the few months we’d gotten to know each other, that he truly understood me. We knew then it would be the last holiday we’d spend apart.
But this Christmas is in two days and there’s no chance of us being together. The reality of the cost of flying back and forth and of limited vacation time factors in. We saw each other in November and now have a long stretch until February. So like last year I’ve got a bunch of presents from him that are sitting on my table waiting until Christmas Eve to be unwrapped. And he’s got some that I sent with much love.
It’s true we’ve spent more time apart than together in 2011 and 2012 but we’re still just as emotionally connected as ever. Sometimes I get busy at work and don’t think much about the relationship. Then suddenly I’ll remember that there’s someone out there whose presence has changed my life.
I am reminded that just one more Christmas after this and the week-long stretches of gray rainy days and damp air will give way to sunshine and palm trees and a whole different ocean. I am reminded that in less two years I won’t be a single parent anymore and someone will be there to watch over me, to literally (not virtually) stand by my side and help me in life.
I sit alone tonight thinking that just one more Christmas after this one and Ryan and I really will spend all the holidays together. I’ve baked all afternoon for family gatherings. All my gifts for everyone are wrapped. Ivy is out with friends. The tree is lit, and now it’s time to just sit and wait.
My life has become a continual emotional conflict. On the one hand, I can’t wait to start my life with Ryan, to move to California. They say you can’t run away from things, and that’s true. But you can leave towns and areas where baggage is piled up all around you like rotted trash. You can dream of living in a place where nothing is familiar, where nothing is cursed, and you don’t have to worry about running into someone you never ever wanted to see again.
On the flip side, once Ivy graduates from high school, this part of our lives is over. I’ll still be her mother of course, but the 0-18 years part of her life will have passed. She’ll be well on her way to adulthood, and long gone will be the days when she sat on my feet when I walked, or held my hand, or trusted I had the answers to everything.
One more Christmas after this and it won’t just be Ivy and me anymore, sitting here with the pets watching our favorite movies over and over again. She’ll be at college and gradually starting a life of her own. And there will be another person in our family. Well one more person and his turtle. Can’t forget Tortuga.
It’s been a long hard year. And of all the years since Ivy was born, since it’s been just the two of us, none drove home testing the difficulties of raising a child alone like this one has. If Ryan hadn’t entered my life, even if it is mostly virtual, I don’t know how well I would have fared. There’s a limit to everyone’s strength and mine was tested.
I wish everyone a happy holiday and a new year filled with hope and celebration for good things to come.