I got a real tree this year, an experience I shared with my great guy. After the tree made its debut in our living room, we decided to start from scratch and buy all new ornaments rather than decorating with ones from his past or mine. Instead, we looked forward to accumulating a few ornaments that would mean something to us. I bought him a 2015 crystal train ornament he wanted; he bought me crystal ornaments of the 12 days of Christmas - the turtle doves and a partridge. My mom bought us a glass hot air balloon to hang on our tree to remind us of the awesome ride we took together in October. On Christmas morning, one of the gifts I opened from Jeff was our personalized First Christmas ornament.
For the first time ever, there was a train surrounding my Christmas tree, 1500 lights on the 8 foot tree, and literal piles of gifts. I can't say I won't remember those things...they made Christmas different for me in a very good way. But what I remember most about the day is waking up in the arms of the man I love, his smile as he filmed me opening his creative gift to me (the Aruba trip, literally spelled out in wooden letters), laughing hysterically as we watched Four Christmases together in our pajamas while waiting for his kids to come for the day and weekend, playing with his two little daughters (silly string fights, backyard football, arts and crafts, car racing, etc.), and falling asleep in a big pile of tired gratitude.
After some of the things I've been through, Christmas had the potential to always be a little sore, a little sad, and a little lonely. Not this year.
And I have a confession to make: I've always hated New Year's Eve. There are a lot of reasons why... But this year, it was great. Really great. I remember last New Years, how glad I was that 2014 had come to a close... How I felt I had survived...
And I had... But what a difference to end this year feeling like I've really lived... And to look forward to 2016 with so much passion and hope and love.
I've laughed so much this year. I've laughed and laughed and laughed. And all the broken pieces of my heart connected again a little more with each laugh.
2015 brought new love, new friends, new thoughts, a new job, and new opportunities. I sit here in a house I wanted to leave and I feel comfortable for now, ready to make firm plans instead of itching to run away. I look at this man in my life, currently fast asleep on the couch spooning my cat, Tumbler, and I feel joy. I write on a new blog, and I'm so happy every day there are times I actually almost forget I was the Cat Widow.
Not because my past or my stories are gone...or hold no meaning...or are hidden away, but because I used to feel so much pain...and that pain is almost gone.