The celebration of the Easter holiday recently, brings home how much your life changes after the loss of a spouse, especially a wife and mother who was always in the center of our family.
Yes, you carry on, but nothing is really the same.
Angela was always the chief coordinator of making a holiday feel like a holiday. So our home was the epicenter of Old World celebrations with a modern twist, and we enjoyed all the aspects of playing that role in our extended family.
Sometimes, up to our elbows in food preparation for a holiday gathering, Angela and I would bemoan the physical impact of the effort on our aging bodies, but on the day of, we were always pleased with the outcome. We especially wanted our sons to have strong and pleasant memories of how we celebrated holidays in our home. Even as it became more difficult to maintain our traditions because of the busy work schedules of our out-of-state children, we always made an effort to promote a family gathering for the iconic Christmas Eve celebration. It meant so much to all of us to be together and carry on our now embedded traditions. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for all of this to just keep happening, unchanged and immutable?
But I have come to recognize that, the absence of a primary participant in the process causes an irreparable breach in your life that cannot be mended. How do you manage to do what you did together, alone? The simple answer is you don’t. I have found that there is no substitute for the person who was central to your way of life. There is no way to imitate something in a meaningful way, without all the original pieces in place. There needs to be a new normal that represents the way things are now.
I’m not suggesting that you cannot do some of the things you used to do, but you come to realize that the authenticity is compromised; all the mechanics are working, but the end product lacks something important. It lacks the essential sentiment that made it all work.
I know that anyone who has had a disruption in their family has had to find a way to move forward, a way to keep what you can and give up the things that will have to become just a memory of your past life.
That is how it is and we are challenged to figure out how to make life work in a slightly different way. I have found that I’m not ever going to be able to fill in for Angela. I’m not going to be able to fulfill any hopes that I may have had to carry on, uninterrupted, all that she did to make our home our home. I realize that I can do some things that are a reflection of her; things that we did which were her signature contributions to our home. I will continue to keep her memory alive in my conversations with my sons about her skills as a homemaker and mom.
This past Easter, I was so pleased to know that Matt was going to make a ham pie, and Frank called for the recipe for the sweet bread that we made every year. These are the little things that I know will help keep our traditions alive, and through them, Angela’s memory as well.
Who knows, perhaps one of them will even decide to tackle Angela’s iconic Italian cream pie one year. That pie was always her signature nod to her own mother who perfected the recipe that she inherited from Angela’s grandmother.
So we all find a way to keep what we can and hope that someone else will want to do the same. Truth be told, that’s the way life unfolds; it evolves, it meanders down an unexpected path... the focus changes. The most important thing to remember is that even as your circumstances change, your new life is built on the old and that puts everything in perspective.