I’ve known so many Christmas Carols, from The Muppets to Owen Meany.
“Which ghost are you?
Are you the one that reminds me of all that I have lost, who brings me stories and sings me to sleep? The one who reminds me that once there was love with all its fierce strength – that once I was whole.”
She smiles and nods, sitting back in her chair, reaching for a biscuit. “come sit next to me and tell me what story you’d like me to tell. Lay down your head and let me run my fingers through your hair. Sleep little one and rest awhile”
And her hands smell like lemons and rosemary, and feel like they are cared for, because they deserve to be, and because they have important work to do.
But no, you are not her today.
Instead you are the noisy unpleasant child that jumps up and down in front of me. Not my child. Not my funny, lively, joyful boy. Someone else’s irritating little brat who has worked out that exact pitch of noise to make my teeth hurt – the verbal equivalent of a plastic trumpet on the front of a magazine. The child who clambers on top of me, pawing at me so I can’t see what I’m doing, can’t speak, can’t breathe, crushing the energy out of me.
My skin crawls with the closeness and the sticky, sickly breath.”Get off me, just leave me alone.
I need some peace””No” he yells, half squawk, half whine “I don’t want to. Carry me, carry my toys, fetch me a snack, turn on the TV then sit there. No I want that cup, no I want some of yours”
There is no escape, not even the bathroom is safe. This child will never give up, never exhaust itself, never be silent.
Yet it is ghost of things yet to come that I fear the most. The silent one; the one where you sit, frightened, anticipating the scream which never comes.
This ghost with its long, emaciated fingers does not show what might be, it shows what will be, and what will not be. There is no redemption, no Christmas morning where we throw open our windows with relief and shout “God Bless Us Everyone”
What has happened has happened. We will sit in terrifying silence watching flickers of things that cannot be” birthdays, weddings, children, holidays, ferocious rows over inconsequential things and laugher over jokes that were sown decades before.
He cannot show us these things.
These three ghosts are my constant companions now, and I will sit with each in their turn.