By Michael Armijo
The holiday season brings many positive memories, but it can also remind me of the painful ones, too. The season is filled with family and friends, but when they are gone the pain of their absence has a tendency to sink in.
Friends have reminded me that you cannot live in the past, but I remind them, “The absence of those close to us who have passed away isn’t in the past, it’s in the present.” Since they were always around to share their love, their absence leaves our hearts aching for their presence on a daily basis.
There are mile markers: the first summer they weren’t here to share with us; the first Halloween they weren’t here to dress up in a costume I could make fun of; the first time I didn’t receive the usual Thanksgiving invite; and the first Christmas I didn’t have to go in search of the perfect gift.
Now, on this New Years Eve, I will struggle without the “I love you, man” drunken phone call exactly at 12:01 am.
Every year for the last 17, I was privileged enough to have someone in my life who shared those things with me: their life, love, passion, experiences, hope, and feelings.
I know today is a new day, and I believe that I am not alone. But when those who share their life with you and give you the feeling that they will love you regardless of your many faults, failures, and shortcomings leave this earth, you cannot help but feel their absence. A piece of you that had confidence and support is now gone. An entity of your life’s confusing and rollercoaster-like existence is gone.
It feels like your dysfunctional life is like a puzzle, with some critical pieces missing. So you try to find those pieces through other relationships, through new loves and old friends; through random acts of kindness and honesty.
But sometimes it feels like those pieces – which you’ve worked so hard to replace – have somehow deteriorated; vanished; dissolved in your hands. You’ve tried to stop it, but it became physically impossible. You’ve tried to “will it” differently; “wish it” to reverse. You’ve tried to close your eyes and wake up from a bad nightmare. But each day that bad dream again becomes a harsh reality.
So I call each day, with or without friends, a day at home. Those that were loved and lost had earned a place in my heart; a room in my self-fabricated, non-dysfunctional home. But now that they’re gone, I feel a bit lonely, and a bit to myself. And I just can’t stop that feeling that I was left completely by surprise, and left to feel Home Alone.