Christmas and the ‘Deadly Anniversary’

My father shot himself on February 3rd, 2003.
He took a small-bore rifle to his head and ended his life two days after his 44th birthday.

At his funeral, my mother, sister and me did not follow the casket as burial custom demands, but walked in front of the funeral procession instead.
Apparently, this was wrong. People frowned upon it.
I didn’t care. I wanted everything to be over and done with.

Two weeks later, after the gossip of my father’s ‘unnatural’ death had spread through the small town I was living in at that time, a woman started talking to me while I was out for a walk. She asked me if the rumors were true that my dad had shot himself in the head twice, because the first time apparently hadn’t done the job.
I left her standing in the street without a word.
Stupidity and lack of tact don’t need to be rewarded.

The first Christmas without him came and went… as well as his first birthday. It was a strange time, but I know that it’s the same for every person out there who lost someone. Anniversaries aren’t always the good kind.

Every year on Christmas, I think of the Dead.
It’s like a habit – an anniversary of thoughts (sort of).
Maybe it’s because I finally take the time to relax for a little while… escape the daily grind and our fast-paced world. I am somewhat ashamed. Throughout the course of the year, I rarely think about my father anymore.
Sure, thoughts of him pop into my head now and then, but they aren’t frequent.
I seldom look at his pictures… they are¬†there, up on the shelf in their usual frames – and that’s that.

Next February, it will be 10 years.
10 years since he’s been gone.
It seems like such a long time.

I seem to have lost the ability to ‘picture’ him in my mind. I mean,¬†fully picture him. I can’t see his face anymore… all I get are fragments… his beard, the color of his eyes – but if I try to see his face when I close my eyes, it is simply not there.

We tell our Dead they will always be remembered.
We tell our Dead we will never forget them.

I think we lie, unintentionally, when we say things like these. Images, once so vivid in our minds, fade in time – like old photographs. After years of ‘absence’, all we remember is a vague outline of the person we once loved dearly.
All that truly remains is a feeling.

I love Christmas.
Not for the presents or the food, nor for the fact that it is a religious holiday, but for this utter stillness inside of me. I have time to think about the past and do not need to rush.

I enjoy the company of the Living and the Dead alike.

Sometimes, I wish I had a photographic memory.
Sometimes, I wish I could see the faces of the Dead lighten up for me… for just a moment.
But I am me… and so I will have to make do with what I have.

I love Christmas. It makes me remember the Dead.
I am thankful to be reminded.


Merry Christmas.

photo credits: