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Turn, turn, turn

Monday, January 5, 2015
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Diana Gumushian

It’s that time of year again. Auld Lang Syne. Turn the page on the old year. Re-evaluate. Turn thoughts in your head. Get in shape. Turn over a new leaf. Get focused. Turn your attention to the New Year. Leave your mistakes and worries behind. Turn the corner and move forward. Turn, turn, turn. It’s all enough to make my stomach turn…

The end of the holidays marks a turning point. We feel the let-down of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season being over. We settle into the cold, dark, long days of winter, and perhaps really think about all that is lost or missing as we take off the brave face and turn to our real emotions. This was the 6th Christmas season without Joe. Every year has felt different. Some were more painful than others. This year, I felt, well, I felt indifferent. It surprised and disturbed me. I felt guilty that I didn’t feel something about him not being here. Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would feel like this about being a widow. It was unimaginable.

I went through the motions of some of our old Christmas routines, and even kept some of the post widowhood ones, like bringing a wreath to his grave, and acquiring a new candle votive to burn in his honor with the other five we’ve marked time with the last five years. I let go of my Christmas duties of assembling and decorating the tree, and let my 14 and 10 year old boys do the entire thing. I couldn’t bring myself to have them hang some of our pre-2008 personalized family ornaments that had Joe's name on them because it didn’t feel like he “belonged” here anymore. It broke my heart, but was liberating. The only role I played in decorating the tree was putting on the star. It felt sterile, and somehow, freeing. I gave away part of my obligation, and let the boys feel like they had control. Turning over the reigns felt like another part of our history and traditions had been lost, and reinvented, evolving in a new way, without Joe.

I’m struggling with what high school my son will attend. He takes the placement exam on Jan 10th, and I’ve been turning in my sleep trying to decide which of the final two he should test at. I've talked with trusted family and friends, but ultimately, the decision is mine to make alone. I turn inward to my thoughts, listen to what my gut is telling me, and then toss and turn yet again in my sleep. I think about the next few months, and all the milestones to come. My son will be graduating 8th grade in the end of May, and I will stand with him as a solo mom, bearing the weight of raising him alone, hoping I am doing right by him, providing a good life, keeping him happy and safe. When he enters high school, I must once again let go of the reigns and give him more freedoms and responsibilities as he begins a new chapter of his life and “turns the page” as a maturing adolescent.

Everyday, we all face turning points in our lives. Some are minor inconveniences, some are a little more relevant, and some can be life-altering, devastating events. When I read about and watched the end of year recaps, discussing the events of 2014, sometimes followed by those looking forward to 2015, I found myself pondering what turns lie ahead for me, and for my children, as we mark another year without Joe. Will we be stronger? Will I miss him any less? Will I startle myself at how much, or little, his absence means in this New Year? The clock keeps ticking. The days keep passing. The calendar keeps turning. I can't stop wondering: In the end, how will it all turn out?

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