I woke up to a rainy Christmas Eve and, at first, my thoughts – after I had some coffee, of course – was on going to my mother’s house for dinner – and my next thought was on the last time I was at my mother’s on Christmas Eve and it was or had been raining.
It was the day we buried my brother, who had died five days earlier. Remember all of this doesn’t fuck with me like it used to but it never fails to make me feel distracted, for lack of a better word. I was sitting at my desk and remembering that rainy day that made for the worst Christmas holiday the family had ever experienced. In past days, the entire clan would assemble at Mom’s house on Christmas Eve to party like it’s illegal (for the adults) and for the kids to be in the Christmas spirit and more so since they were tasked to trim the tree before hustling them off to bed so that “Santa” could drop off loads of presents and so they could haul ass downstairs at 12:01 Christmas Day to leave their grandmother’s living room a mess with all the destroyed wrapping paper that would just get everywhere.
But not that day. We were all there, of course; many of us never went home after coming back from the cemetery. I’d gone back home to change out of my suit and to wonder how I was going to get all that mud off of my shoes; the ground was so saturated with water it was like walking though a rice paddy and was so bad that not only could we not bear his casket to its final resting place, the “cart” that had to be used could barely make it through the muck even with a bunch of us trying to push and pull it along. But we made it and by the time the pastor of our church had finished the graveside service, it had stopped raining but it didn’t make the day any better; by the time we got back to Mom’s, the sun was trying to peek through, normally a good thing on a cold, rainy December day but not so much today.
It was, hands down, the worst Christmas holiday any of us had ever experienced. But that was then and this was now but I couldn’t escape the similarities in today’s weather and where I was going. Linda and I went and we had a good time; Mom cooked enough food to feed a small army despite her allergies messing with her. We both took a long moment to look at The Wall, which contains pictures of damn near all of us and at varying stages of our lives; I was shaking my head to see this one picture of me where I not only had hair, but I had all of my teeth! Of course, pictures of my late brother and sister still adorn The Wall as does the pictures of those of the family who are no longer with us; my maternal grandparents, my only uncle, a step-sister.
Mom had a surprise for me and one I would have never expected in a million years: She had found the first teddy bear I ever had and, yeah, I carried it with me wherever I went! The moment I saw that 60-year-old bear, I recognized it, with it’s brown eyes and slightly crooked snout and when I turned it over, yep, there was the spot that Mom had to sew up so long ago (and I vividly remembered having a fit because my bear had a hole in him). He needs some cleaning up – someone, one of the great-grandkids, smeared some black substance on his brown fur and I spent a few minutes picking the strands of what had to be a weave off of him but, hey, my bear and I have been reunited and when we got home, I was actually walking around with him tucked under my arm, just as I used to all those years ago.
Linda laughed at me. So until I can try to get that black shit off of him, he’s sitting on my nightstand…