My blogging friend of long standing, adinparadise, tagged me in her ‘Simple Pleasures’ post. I saw her tag comment minutes after reading the news about the tragedy that recently occurred in Connecticut and my thoughts were turned to the things I can be grateful for in the face of the sadness that those families are experiencing during this, the first festive season without their loved ones. I can’t begin to imagine how life continues after you have had to bury a child. I am estranged from my own daughter and my grief knows no limits, but I thank God every day that she is a healthy, beautiful and grounded young woman.
So, I turn to counting my blessings and looking for the simple pleasures that come with being alone at Christmas. Small things such as the unadulterated luxury of having as much time as I like to enjoy a pedicure, while playing loud, trashy music to sing along to.
The freedom to meet a friend for lunch and have no curfew.
Eating my supper outside, early and not worrying that it’s not a balanced meal. Mushrooms are vegetables, after all.
And through the grief and abjectly lonely moments, I have the support of my friends in AA; my sponsor – who will drop everything and come to me if I only say the word, those who call or email regularly and those who have made sure I have somewhere to be on Christmas Day. “See, alcoholism is exactly like bubble gum. You know when you blow a bubble and it bursts, some of the gum sticks to your chin?” Small, tentative laughter. “What’s the only thing that gets the bubble gum off your chin?” she asks. Sometimes I will chew grape bubble gum because it stinks and hides the smell of alcohol. I answer, “Bubble gum. You have to take the gum out of your mouth and press it against the gum on your chin and it’ll pick it up.” Rae beams. “You’ve got it.” Slam dunk. I am on the road to recovery. “Only an alcoholic can treat another alcoholic. Only other alcoholics can get you sober.” From ‘ Dry. A memoir.’ By Augusten Burroughs.
And then there are my blog friends. To you all I, I wish you a happy festive season and thank you for your support during the highs and lows of the past year.
My sister’s name is Jacquelyn. On her first day of school, she – not being one to ever do things in single measures – befriended a set of twins as new best friends. The school being a girls-only establishment made the mother of said twins a little curious when they arrived home full of praise for their new friend ‘Jack William’; the woman was very relieved to discover that there was no double-barrel-named little boy in the class and that her daughters had simply given my sister’s name their own interpretation.
I’ve always called her Jackie, and she is everything a sister ought to be. Although she’s much younger than me (my brother came in the middle of us three children; the only ‘planned’ baby my parents produced – but that is another story, for a different day) she’s been my bedrock through all my ups and downs.
I recently bought myself a rabbit; Jackie had sent me some money and I was missing Betsy. This, the latest in my longtime habit of rabbit-ownership, is one that cannot destroy my garden. It seemed only fitting that my new bunny be named Jack William and he (yes, he’s pink, but I decided I needed a male about the place) somehow makes Jackie closer to me as I enjoy my early-morning coffee in the garden every day. Jack William is proving to be an amiable housemate; he’s most agreeable and I’ve yet to hear him utter a bad word.
Living alone is becoming easier as I get on with it. Being so busy at work helps and the free time I do have is usually taken up by my trying to catch up with sleep. I do enjoy the freedom to do as I please; like eating fish fingers for breakfast without having to explain myself. And the pleasure of having an entire chocolate orange all to myself.
Johannesburg is fast becoming empty; everyone’s starting their annual trek to the coast. I’ll be home alone over the festive season for the first time in my life. I’ve armed myself against melancholy with lots to read and plan to watch a lot of movies. My mantra will be that wonderful quote by Paul Tillich: “Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone.”
And if the glory wanes somewhat, I know that my sister is only a phone call away.