I'm stuck in history - always looking back. This time of year it's my own history I remember. 23 years ago, on a snowy December night, my husband drove into a greyhound bus. Our six month old daughter's baby seat had been just moved, the week before, to the back seat. (In those days rear-facing infant car seats were allowed in the front.) That saved her.
I'd just come off maternity leave and was still nursing my babe. I was eager to get home from work and relieve my full breasts. And when my ride home never came, the fear that grew in my gut was powerful.
The weeks that followed are etched into my memory as permanent history. They didn't think he'd live through the first night. But because my blood-covered baby was going to be all right, I could face his uncertainties. The coma, the rehab, the future ... it was possible because my baby was okay. She gave me such strength.
Her first Christmas was wonderful and horrible at the same time. The man who emerged from the two week coma was nobody I knew. His infantile behavior was frightening. He tore open gifts like a toddler - unable to be interested in what was inside - . But I don't want to get into the recovery process. We always looked forward and were in complete denial of the long term effects of traumatic brain injury.
It's a long 23 year story and I don't want to go on about it, but just want to say, I remember the shock of walking through a pre-Christmas shopping mall and being assaulted by the Christmas muzac, by the lights (that weren't on medical machines) and by the frivolity of shoppers. The memory of that loneliness, of not being part of Christmas, has stayed with me.
And so I wish everyone, not a merry Christmas, but a peaceful and safe one. Drive carefully and enjoy the gift of the 'present.' And to the 'outsiders' of Christmas 2008 ... all I can offer is a warm, well-intentioned touch of empathy. Peace.