Just another day

Toby Christmas day 2010

Toby Christmas 2010, our last Christmas together

I’m not really fussed about Christmas, to me it’s just another day.

I have an older brother but since our teens we’ve never been close. No big drama, we just don’t have a sibling bond, I’m not sure why. I love him, I’d give him a kidney; but we hardly speak.

He married his childhood sweetheart and they have three perfect sons and five perfect grandchildren. No invite was forthcoming to spend Christmas with them, so I will be spending Christmas day with friends I have met through my walking group who also don’t spend Christmas with their families for different reasons.

I haven’t felt quite so bah humbug this year. I organised a Christmas lunch for elderly people who are alone at Christmas. I gave quite a bit of money and time and made it happen, and it was worth it when I saw people enjoying a lovely meal and making new friends. I am like a pebble dropped in the sea, I send ripples out to the Universe and those ripples keep on going, like a chain reaction.

This year I haven’t been filled with the usual dread. Partly because I have been kept very busy with University assignments. I also had a friend to stay recently and adopted a rescue dog, so no time to dwell and feel sorry for myself. Toby’s birthday is on 22nd, and I go to his special place and lay a wreath of holly leaves and berries and hang a Christmas ornament on his tree. There were not so many tears this year. I sat on a bench with the two dogs and a robin hopped down to visit.

Toby would be 29 now and I wonder if he ever would have settled into a job and had children of his own. He said he detested babies and would never have any, but if he had fallen in love and matured that might have changed.

Toby was just Toby, I can’t say he was the model son, whatever that is. He was my everything, but most of the time he never answered his phone and if he did there wouldn’t be much conversation. He lied to me on many occasions and in one brutally honest moment when he was trying to explain why he did it he said: “But when I lie to you, you say you’re proud of me.” Ouch…

He seemed to sabotage every opportunity he was given; school, work experience, jobs, University. He was so intelligent and could have done anything if only he could have found some motivation.

After he went to Uni and made new friends I lost him, and didn’t really know the young man he had become. But I did know Toby, my son, the intelligent, sensitive, funny person who screwed up time after time, only because he couldn’t figure out what he was supposed to be in a world that was alien to him.

If he were still here, in all probability he’d still be trying to figure it out, he just wanted to be independent but that meant conforming and he wasn’t very good at that. He wasn’t the kind of son who would come home to see me at Christmas, he’d rather spend it with his mates, but that’s OK with me.

Whatever your beliefs about Christmas it is a time to come together and celebrate, whether as a Christian celebration or just as a time to get together with loved ones, eat, drink, exchange gifts and hopefully laugh a lot and feel thankful. So I’ll be doing that this year and not dwelling on what might have been.

People can feel conflicted when wishing someone who is bereaved a ‘Happy Christmas’, so instead I would wish them a peaceful day, filled with memories and hope for the future.

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4 Responses to Just another day

  1. Lori Robinson says:

    Hi Anne,
    It’s Christmas Eve morning in the States. Always look forward to seeing your blog!
    Yes, family dynamics can be challenging for sure. It’s really sad your brother and his “perfect” family don’t reach out to you during the year. There’s no way to explain behavior like this, but I think you make the best out of life. It’s wonderful to give back to others and see the joy brought into lives who have less.

    I so appreciate how you realize wishing those of us in perpetual bereavement (don’t think any parent ever gets over the death of their child, whatever age and whatever reason) a Happy or Merry Christmas is too hard to do. I try to offer the same sentiments during the holidays.

    This year I networked with many other parents whose kids have been egregiously harmed by the potent pot of the culture as well as true professionals (neuroscientists, addiction therapists & board certified addiction medicine/board certified child-adol psychiatrist, psychologist, ER physicians…) and with another parent co-founded a Moms Strong website (www.momsstrong.org) to reach out and help support how healthy, young people in the prime of their lives are having their brain assaulted by the psychoactive properties of today’s extremely turbo-charged strains of THC-marijuana. It’s becoming a rising drug concern in America with even more states this past election voting to legalize “recreational” pot, beside more states voting for “medical”marijuana.
    It’s definitely a drug, over time, that is afflicting horriific brain changes for some users despite
    kids believe it is a sacred “herb”. As perceived harmfulness decreases, use rises. My son (Shane)
    who took his life at age 25, in the preceding 27 months suffered two separate episodes of psychosis, never a day of mental instability until this time when he admitted using pot. I don’t know how many parents whose son or daughter dies by suicide realizes sometimes the drugs kids are using are the environmental trigger for severe mental illnesses, including suicide, as the final outcome. It’s truly a devastating time and more and more similar stories are emerging in the U.S. So, I’m trying to take the horrible evils I saw happen to Shane and raise the level of awareness so hopefully young people will at least be informed before starting. There’s tremendous greed with this pot industry and state revenues increase because of commercialized pot so I believe it’s one key reason the federal govt here turns a blind eye.

    I think we moms who have lost so much just reach out and help fill our broken hearts by appreciating the opportunities we still have on earth . Wishing you a peaceful Christmas and for positive, enriching future memories to come. I know you’ve written before Toby did express his love for you, just in a typical young male way. Here’s hoping 2017 will offer you more comfort.

  2. Michele Harper says:

    I hope you had a peaceful Christmas Day.
    Lots of love. Michele. Xxx

  3. Toti says:

    Hello Mrs Anne… I hoped you had an enjoyable christmas and New year eve, I just want to say reading your blog about Toby have make me respect him greatly; He was his own REAL person without pretending to be anything he was not regardless if he didn’t achieve success by society standards which in my book is one of the greatest accomplishment you can ever say, I know quite an amount of how much he must have struggled with his own demons and how overwhelming was his mental suffering to take that ultimate decision yet my belief system makes me thinks that he is at peace now; even is if a fact that he wasn’t the “ideal” son and you have the thought that you wasn’t a good enough mum to him you were both genuine people who loved each other deeply in this life.
    My blessings to you.

  4. Pooja says:

    Anne, you give me the courage to go on. I cannot tell you the impact you have had on the lives of people like me. Thank you for being you. I hope you had a peaceful christmas and i hope Toby celebrated it the way he wanted with his mates up there. I wish you peace, continued healing and blessings in this new year and always.

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