It's December 1st, the first day of Holidailies, and the day after the first Sunday of Advent. While I don't consider myself Christian anymore, I am the Parish Administrator for an Episcopal church and the rhythm of the Church year is becoming part of my rhythm, too. All of these things came together as I was driving home from work today, and it hit me like a fist in my stomach and left me just as breathless. The holidays are coming - Christmas is coming. And it's going to be my first one without Tom.
Even though I'd admitted to him that I was pretty sure I was gay by this time a year ago, neither one of us had decided what to do about it. Separate? Stay together and try to create a different sort of family? Each have our own lovers outside the marriage but stay together for the kids? We also hadn't talked to many people about it. I'd talked to my Mom, and a couple of friends, but that was it. Tom had a trip planned out of the country and his mom, Judy, was coming to spend a week with the kids and me. I was worried about how it would feel, knowing Tom's and my relationship was so shaky... and I was worried about how introvert-me would deal with living with Judy for a whole week.
It turned out to be amazing. Judy was fabulous. She played with the kids, helped around the house, helped me decorate for Christmas, babysat the kids so I could go to see the Desolation of Smaug... and when I came down with Strep just a few days before she was leaving, she made me dinner and took care of Tai and Miriam and let me rest. All without even needing to be asked. She was a partner, in a way I'd never been partnered.
This afternoon, in the car, I wished it was last year again, for a second. Last year, when I had hope that something different could happen. That we could still be a family. Instead I'm trying to figure out how to drag a big tree into the house by myself, thinking of dropping off Tom's ornaments, wondering what to do with the train his family had gotten Tai that goes under the tree, what I should do with the tree-skirt Judy made.
Tonight, as I was giving the kidlets a bath, I showed them a short video I'd taken of them in the bath together two years ago. They fit a lot better when Tai was four and Miriam wasn't even a year old. They've both become tall and lanky. But after laughing at his own silliness, Tai said, "That was when you and Daddy lived together, right?" And I said yes, because we did. I heard the wistfulness in his voice, felt it in my own heart. I've gone over this and over it - I don't miss Tom. I miss what I wish we could have had. I miss that family that I thought we could be, but that we never were.