I have been listening to Taylor Swift’s new album incessantly for a month now. Yes, it’s true; I am almost old enough to be her mother, in a Bristol Palin kind of way. And yes, most of her lyrical topics are about fairy tales, high school and heartbreak of the boy kind, but I adore her. I am envious of her life – writing her own music, headlining her own tour, wearing gorgeous clothes and having such a taut body. Listening to her is like momentarily escaping my middle-aged, sad, saggy-bodied life. My fabulous friend Annie wrote this about Taylor on her blog: “The only thing that I don’t understand is her dating life. From the songs that she writes, roughly 50% of her time is spent kissing boys on the sidewalk in the rain. The other 50% of her time is spent locking eyes with boys across the room at parties with twinkling lights. Is this what my life should look like?”
Well my life certainly doesn’t look like hers. It could not be more polar opposite in fact. But if I were to write a song right now it would be called “Back to December” as well. Only in it I would not be pining for Taylor Lautner and his Twilight Vampire Wolfy ways, but rather longing for my son and the last time he was here. “I go back to December all the time…”
It is December – the month of Ben’s death. The scenes from the last days and weeks of his life play over and over in my mind throughout the year – most of the time I feel like it is December, even in July. You would think I would want to skip over this month altogether because it is so brutally sad. But strangely, it is also comforting – to arrive at the time of the year where the weather outside matches my heart, where our house looks the same as it did when Ben was last here. There is something holy about this season now outside of Christmas.
We didn’t think Ben would even be alive in December. On November 3rd 2008, they gave us 48-72 hours most likely, as the swelling in his brain was occurring at such an alarming rate. But he was stubborn and determined. He fought hard. And in doing so, he gave us a blue print for how to walk through this last month of the calendar year. Though our hearts don’t feel like rejoicing and it is certainly for us not “the most wonderful time of the year” I think we were “lucky” that Ben lived as long as he did. For in doing so, he gave us a gift – amazing moments and last memories that we will always associate with this season.
As we decorated our tree last week, we remembered Ben and the sheer delight he had looking at each ornament as if he had never seen it before. We smiled and laughed at his abundant joy and commentary when we showed it to Ryan on video. As Ryan hung Ben’s special ornaments front and center on our tree, I stared at those Cars with tears and confusion – for I still cannot comprehend any of this, almost two years later. What happened? Where is he? He was just holding these ornaments himself. If I ran a finger print check his would still be on these I’m sure. I think to myself, “Ben was just here”, as I don’t want it to have been two years. And then my other three year old walks in, reminding me that he was not just here. But I go back to that December all the time…