It started with a white speck in the blue sky, guided by the cool breeze as it tumbled to the ground. It was the first sign that the season of cheer, laughter, and joy was just around the corner. It was the day of the first snowflake; the day I was lying in bed feeling sick. There was nothing physically wrong with me, but somehow my head was hurting and my stomach was rejecting whatever I put in it. In the end, I gave up trying altogether.
The year had been a rough one on me. It started off great with no worries, but then halfway through, everything turned sour. The man I planned to see the world with, build a family with, become grandparents with, became ill. His sickness was the one with no cure; the one where upon discovery, there was no more hope.
It was so sudden and so shocking that at first, I was certain the doctors were wrong. But then reality hit, and the fantasy that I had created in my head shattered; David was going to die, David is dead. There will no longer be anymore Christmases to share, no more plans to see through, no more love. A few weeks before the first snowflake, David faded away.
Everyone I knew tried to comfort me. They sent me cards, called to check in, and even offered to come over and keep me company, but I soon grew tired of it all. I appreciated their efforts, but there was nothing they could do to make me feel better. So I stopped answering the phone, the doorbell, and logged out of life completely… for as long as reality permitted.
When I finally decided it was time to return to the world, it took me a lot of effort. Even though I was in no mood to celebrate Christmas or the New Year, I was going to try and be human again. It was not easy but within a few days, I managed to get into a routine.
I would get out of bed every morning, eat something for breakfast, read a book, clean the house, try to eat something for lunch, answer my parents’ calls, watch the children across the street play in the snow, force myself to eat something for dinner, read some more, before heading to bed. Leaving the house was not part of my routine, not even to check the mail. One day, however, I heard an unexpected ding dong.
Dreading the thought of having to speak to someone, I dragged myself to the door only to find a parcel on the ground. Taking a quick look around, I hesitated to bring it in when there was no one around. Who was it from? The parcel was wrapped like a gift with a red bow on top, and the card that sat with it was addressed to me. I assumed it was a gift from a friend or a family member.
Bringing the parcel in, I briefly contemplated on waiting for Christmas day, but then I recalled not wanting to even think about Christmas and proceeded with opening it. Inside, I found an instruction card and a little pot filled with soil.
“Place the plant near a window and water it everyday. Not too much though, or it’ll drown,” I read.
That is morbid, I thought. Is this a joke?
David did not drown, but death was still a sensitive topic for me. Strangely, I decided to keep the plant despite the tasteless instruction and the lack of information on the sender.
The following day, I heard it again; the doorbell. When I went to my door, I found no one outside but a mini watering can. There was an instruction card attached to it as well, telling me to use it when watering the plant. The day after that was surprisingly the same, I found a bag of fertilizer instead of a person. It was not hard to come to a conclusion that someone was trying to help me feel better, or at least fill my day with a new activity. Honestly, it was rather fun.
Everyday was the same, with a new gift at the doorstep for the little plant. I soon became dedicated in caring for the plant, that when I saw the first leaf I jumped with joy. I was also very curious as to the person that planned the whole thing. Someone knew I was struggling and someone wanted to help me through. Their approach was so unique, but it was almost impossible to catch the ‘angel’. Then one day, it stopped.
It was a few days before Christmas and I was honestly upset. Why did this person decide to stop just before my favourite day of the year? Yes, despite not wanting to celebrate Christmas this year, it had been my favourite holiday since I was a child. If this person did it on purpose, the whole thing was a cruel joke. Angry, I decided to pretend it never happened. I still watered the plant though, because it was finally in my routine.
Little did expect, on Christmas night the doorbell rang again. Thinking it was the neighbourhood carolers, I was prepared to ask them to leave. This time however, I found my answer. Once again, there was no one at the door except for a red envelope. It seemed to me the sender was finally revealing his or her identity and I excitedly tore it open. What I found inside was a polaroid and a letter.
The polaroid was a picture of me and David from three years ago. At the base was the caption, ‘Our first Christmas together’. Reading those words, I immediately felt a lump in my throat. My hands began to tremble as I silently told myself to breathe. The picture was indeed our first Christmas together. I could remember the day so clearly, as David wanted to decorate the tree with polaroids instead of ornaments. He insisted on it and I gave in. That memory made me laugh as a tear rolled down my cheek.
Turning my attention to the letter, I began to wonder if I should give it a read. I was afraid of its contents, afraid of the memories it would bring up, but I needed to know who planned it all. Slowly unfolding it, I took a deep breath and started from the date.
25th September, 2014.
Three more months before Christmas! Are you excited? I hope you are. It won’t be an easy time, but it’s your favourite holiday of the year so you better be smiling. Smile for me right now, do it!
I forced a smile.
Good girl, I saw you.
Emma, I know you’re hurting and probably still grieving, but I want you to know you’re not alone. You are never alone. Yes, I made a promise to hold your hand when you turn eighty and I’m sorry for breaking it so early, but I want you to know that I’m still with you. That’s why I prepared your gift before I left.
I don’t want your Christmas to be about my death. I want it to be about our life together. What we had was amazing! How we met over an argument on who saw the last turkey first, to the day we took a hundred polaroids to hang on our first Christmas tree as a married couple… we had a great life together, don’t you think? And yes, even though it was only a short one, it was the best years of my life. You were my best friend, my supporter, and my own personal doctor… you were everything. Your life gave ME life!
If you have not guessed by now, it’s me, David. Yes, goofy David who gave you a plant for Christmas. That plant is the last gift I can give to you and I hope it will keep you company for many years. I hope it would be there to hold your hand when you turn eighty and remind you that even though I’m not by your side, you are not alone. Provided you take good care of the plant like how you’ve taken good care of me these few years. Don’t let it die, or drown! Too soon?
I love you Emma, I always will. Promise me you’ll put up a Christmas tree next year, promise me you’ll wrap horrible gifts and sing the cheesy Christmas songs. I want you to be happy and that’s the only gift I’m asking for. Don’t let me down!
Merry Christmas, love.
Your one and only, David.
Are letters capable of making you laugh and cry at the same time? For the first time since his death, I could hear his voice; a voice that always lifted my spirit up in dark times. David did it again and it was all I needed to get back on my feet.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let the plant drown,” I whispered.
Merry Christmas, love. Thank you for the gift of life.
Let me first start by saying this is fiction. It’s not a true story. But, I believe it’s a story we can all relate to.
We have all experienced loss in our lives, whether a person, a job, a pet, or a sentimental object. You might have even lost something this year. But in this season, don’t let that stop you from looking forward. Life is a roller coaster with highs and low, with us dwelling in the lows more than the highs. So let’s change that!.
Let’s celebrate life and reflect on the good this year. And whatever bad we’ve faced, let’s have hope that the coming year would be better. Keep your head up high and aim to end the year on a positive note. You can do it! I know you can.
Anyway, it has been awhile since I’ve posted short stories on my blog. So I’m not sure how this fairs, but I do hope you like it 🙂 Do let me know what you think in the comments below and happy holidays!
© 2014 Jeyna Grace
(For more short stories, click HERE)