Why The Holidays Aren’t So Merry For Me

It was one year ago today, December 26, 2008, that Angela and I came home from early morning post-Christmas shopping and breakfast and we found my Berner, Tobey, had passed away. It seems fitting that the skies are crying with me again.

Over the past year a lot has changed. There isn’t a day that goes by that I haven’t thought about my father or Tobey. It has been hard for me over the past few weeks to aptly get into the ‘holiday spirit’ or be ‘merry’. It doesn’t take much at all for me to start thinking of Tobey as a puppy as well as when he was growing up; I often start to get weepy when I think of his medical problems and the lengths that we went to try and keep him with us.

I originally wrote a piece for another website that allowed me to write on their front page. It was titled “Pictures: Capable of Capturing our Life and Death“. I thought of the man who took a picture of his life almost every day for a number of years. When he was struck by cancer, he documented the tolls that it took on hm. When he was on his death bed someone else had taken the picture of him – void of life, surrounded by the ones who loved him.

When we found Tobey, I asked Angela to take pictures. It may seem macabre to have asked that, but I didn’t want to forget or lose him. It was very selfish of me because deep in my heart I knew that he was gone. I could only imagine how hard it was for Angela to carry out my request. Tomorrow will be the very first day that I’ll see those final pictures of Tobey. I’ve relived that day in my head countless times but I’ve never had the courage to look at those pictures.

I will do it on his anniversary. I will miss him and I’ll cry and I’ll hug and love my family and gently kiss the ‘Tobey Corner’, the area of the kitchen where we found him.

Baby Tobey, playing in the kiddie pool for the first time
Baby Tobey, playing in the kiddie pool for the first time. In my mind this is one of the ways that I'll always remember him.

So, you’ll have to forgive me if I’m not as merry or jovial around the holidays; if I try to duck out and avoid some of the seasonal cheer. On December 26th I’ll be reminded of a pain that I carry with me. We’ll be taking some doughnuts to the emergency hospital that took care of our boy and we’ll thank them for the fine work that they do. And after that we’ll make our way to Arlington Cemetery where we’ll spend some time with Dad.

I truly wish all of you ‘Happy Holidays’ and I encourage you to take advantage of being with your loved ones. Be greedy and selfish with your time with them and wrap yourself in their warmth and love and feel like you never want it to end. Sadly, sometime and somehow it will have to end and all you might be left with are photographs and memories.