As Christmas fast approaches I dread it more and more. And having space and time alone with my memories of Josh while focusing on the happy times that we shared together throughout the 21 years and 8 months of his short life, breaks my heart. I never got to share Josh’s 21st Christmas with him, and I never thought in a million years that I would have been facing Christmas without him only a few months after his death. While my world had stopped everyone else’s, apart from those closest to Josh and those who were supporting me, were carrying on with with their plans oblivious to my pain and suffering. Everything from the TV and Radio jingles to the flashing lights decorating peoples homes reminded me that Christmas would never ever be the same again.
The past month has been fast paced with little time to adjust to the outcome of the trail and the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, but as you already know by now, this is how I manage to avoid my pain by keeping myself busy at all costs. However more and more I find that I am having to accept that peace and quite is what I need in order for me to start to move forward and allow myself to grieve, even if it fills me with dread and maybe this Christmas I might do just that. The hardest part of this time of the year for me is being surrounded by the Christmas cheer and spirit as Josh was the cheer and spirit, he made Christmas. As a toddler Josh would became so excited that he would count down the days, months ahead of Christmas and as a grown man he would make plans months in advance too. Josh’s zest for life made everything about the Christmas spirit truly exciting and contagious and on more often than not the parties that we had at home came about because Josh had convinced me to have them. Even though I wasn’t excited about Christmas for myself I would find myself counting down the days with Josh looking forward to the plans that he would be making and it is truly heartbreaking as I can hear him talking and laughing on the phone making plans as I am writing this now. In all honesty, and I can not tell you why as I don’t really know why, I have never been a huge fan of Christmas, when the kids were younger and while I went all out to make it a truly magical time for them it was never something that I looked forward to. I keep being reminded not to feel guilty about not looking forward to Christmas as when I used to say to Josh that I couldn’t be bothered to drag out the tree, decorate it, look at it for a few weeks to only then have to take it back down again and pack it all away, Josh would say don’t bother with it then Mum it’s just a tree, he would say it to make me feel better, bless him. To be fair Josh was more interested in being out and about and didn’t spend too much time looking at the tree ha ha. I would always gave in to the pressure of it all though and I would put the tree up in spite of my reluctance and I know that Brooke and Josh were happy to see it there in the window taking pride of place when they got back home after work too. Also during this time of the year I worry about those who feel under the pressure of Christmas, maybe it goes back to my childhood and seeing my Mum struggle under the pressure of it all, knowing as I got older how much she had sacrificed to make sure that we had happy childhood memories. Over the years I have seen how much harder it is getting for people who are unable to afford Christmas and for those who are feeling the pressure of putting on a brave face when they are depressed, lonely or isolated. I recognise the isolation, pain and depression because it is a reflection of mine too. There is so much suffering, homelessness, poverty and pain and the social divide is becoming bigger and bigger with little or no let up and that worries me a lot as it is also compounding the increase in serious violent crime.
Last year when I helped to feed the homeless I saw far too many people suffering but the one common thread of pain for so many was the loneliness and the absence of a loved one a family member or someone that they could lean on in their lives. They had arrived at a place in life where they were alone, truly alone sharing a table with a stranger who also had no one to call family and it was heartbreaking to witness. While I have family around me and friends who are at the end of the phone the loneliness is all consuming because no one can feel my pain and no one can take it away either and I will never be able to make sense of my life without Josh in it.
When you lose someone in your life it is hard to not think about them, miss them and feel depressed by their absence, but to lose your child under the most horrific of circumstances leaves a hole that you can not walk past, move around or jump over. It is a hole so vast that it is never ending, a hole that I fall into every hour of every day and where I hold on to the edge tightly in order to pull myself back out of it so that I can keep my promise and do all that I can to make another day a positive one in memory of Josh by helping others. It is exhausting and never ending and the only way to push through it for me is to make sure that my grip gets stronger so that I can pull myself out of the hole a little bit more quickly each and every time.
I look back on the past four years without Josh and I feel guilty that I have experienced them without him and the feeling of guilt, anger and frustration with my 5th Christmas fast approaching without him consumes me. I find myself staring at people especially the ones laughing out loud because they remind me of Josh and I imagine it is him, smiling, laughing and all excited about being out and about, partying and all dressed up to the nines. Josh should be here with us not as a memory he should be here with his laughter his smile and above all his future a future denied to him and all because his life was taken from him in a few seconds in an act of extreme violence and savagery.
My last words to Josh and his to me were I love you and for that I will be forever thankful and I pray for every parent, sibling and family member who has lost a child in tragic circumstances that they find the strength to get through this very difficult time of the year.
Happy Christmas everyone, be safe and give a thought to those who are less fortunate than you. Lots of love always, Tracey, Brooke and Josh ???????xx