There’s no doubt that this time of the year is a favorite for many. The aesthetic of the holiday buzz circles around the wind like a sweet tinsel-filled whisper. Glistening lights garner undivided attention. Pairs of rosy cheeks snuggle up on a worn couch by a fireplace and share a laugh in the ambiance of the season.
But for many, this time of year can spur deep-seeded emotions, especially for those who have lost a loved one to addiction. The twinkle of the lights can get blurry from a face welled up with tears. For those who have a loved one currently battling with addiction, the fireplace doesn’t seem as warm.
Many of us have lost someone, whether they have physically passed away or are emotionally gone from using substances. We long for those days – especially the holidays – when they were around. It doesn’t matter if they were good or bad memories. We like to stay in them, and we often find ourselves pondering what this time of year would look like if our loved one was still here.
What It Would Be Like
If you were here, we’d put up the Christmas tree the day after a long Thanksgiving. Mom would complain about you not helping and you’d probably be passed out from a drunken stupor from the day before. We’d drag the faux Douglas Fir into the house. The rhythm of your hungover snoring was my equivalent to Andy William’s, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year,” because after all, it wasn’t Christmas-time without it.
We’d take the tree out of it’s worn corrugated cardboard box and assemble. We’d purposely find the dent you made when you fell into the tree from being drunk. Who could forget that Christmas – I think it was 2008. In previous years, we’d hide the dent and turn it towards the wall. This year, it’s in front so we can see it. Now it gives Mom and I a laugh. Sometimes it makes us cry; but it’s mostly so we can remember you.
If you were still here, Christmas wouldn’t be so different, it would actually be normal again.
If you were here, I could still make fun of you for not putting up lights on the house because of your fear of heights. I would have one more person to embarrass me with childhood stories when family was in town. We would take a million selfies together with Christmas filters because you liked taking pictures with me. This time of year would be filled with more laughter, excitement and hugs.
We’d watch our yearly movie, “White Christmas.” We’d re-enact the dancing and sing each song from our living room. Our ego’s made us think we were almost as good as Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. Like usual, Mom would pass out before the movie was remotely close to finished. I’d glance at you near the end of the movie. Your eyes would be glassy from your second bottle of wine. But soon, they’d be overflowing with the stream of tears about to burst from your face. You’d be reminiscing in the memories of when you’d watch it with your Dad, long ago. This year, I’m the one crying.
If you were here, we’d go out for Italian on Christmas eve.
You’d get the chicken parmigiana. We’d drive way too fast in your sports car convertible, throwing caution and our hair to the wind. You’d snake in and out of each neighborhood, pointing out unique lights. Mom would yell at you to slow down because your adrenaline thrills were way too much for her.
When Christmas came you would find anyway to ruin it for everyone else. You’d be wearing your pale yellow Emeril Lagasse apron most of the day. Only, half the day you’d be cooking, and the other half you’d be outside getting high.
You’d make a commotion no matter where you went. You’d be the bull in the china shop; the elephant in the porcelain store. Finally, you’d get angry. You’d raise your voice at our family. The fun would stop. Christmas that year would be done. The next day you would apologize, telling us up and down that “you’re going to stop and you’re going to get some help. You’ll be sober soon.” But, the empty promises ran as dry as your chugged bottles, and you never did.
If you were here and ruined my Christmas with your substance use, at least you’d still be here.
If you were here, I wouldn’t have to miss you this much. I wouldn’t have to talk to you through my prayers and dreams. I wouldn’t have to go through these holidays reminiscing – wishing that you could be here. Addiction is a terrible disease. It roars like a tornado and tears apart every life it touches. I wouldn’t have to think, “what could have been?” Could you have gotten sober? Maybe. Maybe not. But maybe if you did, you would be cooking in the kitchen right now. Would Christmas be different this year? Well, it already is. I’m not saying that anything that you did while you were using was okay, but the pain of your memories around holidays don’t compare to the pain of you not being here for the holidays.
If you were still here, it would be painful, but not as painful as it is now that you’re gone.