After today, I can add “have a good cry over a piece of bacon” to my life experiences. I’ve been holding in my emotions for the past few days, willing myself to NOT make eye contact with the ghost of Christmas past. The smiling, always up to mischief face of my father, who took great delight in this time of year.
As I sat at the breakfast table with my husband, listening to the sound of some red dirt band and children’s feet running around upstairs, the dam broke. I bit into the perfectly-cooked piece of bacon, commented to my husband how it was the best from the batch yet, let the glare from the fresh fallen snow fall into my eyes from the window I was facing, and let myself fall apart. I laid my head down on my arm, my tears falling freely on the backside of my old, crooked, scratched up glasses I only wear to bed. It was all just too much.
The bacon. From the pig we’d raised since it was a soft, squirming young thing in the spring. His name was Ham, his brother was Sam. My dad absolutely loved spoiling those pigs. He would bring over buckets and buckets of produce from his garden. Over-ripe okra, softening tomatoes, excess zucchini. He once sent my husband home with a pickup bed of veggies, and asked him to take a video of the boys pigging out, snorting and rooting as pigs do. And all the while, I couldn’t wait to share the rewards of this smorgasbord with my dad. He loved pork chops…and under-cooked bacon. But he would never get to enjoy it. Just like this snow.
Snow. Blanketing the ground in every direction. Just in time for Christmas, like my father would have loved. I let my mind wander to one place the snow fell. On the cemetery. Covering my father’s grave. Somewhere I haven’t been in awhile. It just hurts too much.
And so, the bacon, the snow, the proximity to the best time of year, and I broke down. Not sobbing, just flowing. My husband, my partner, my friend, stood up and came to me. He didn’t speak. Just stroked my back in silence. Didn’t ask what was wrong, didn’t say it would be okay. He knew.
Eventually, our girls came down the stairs, and squealed with running feet into the kitchen, our somber moment a juxtaposition to their raucous game. I didn’t look up. Didn’t pretend this wasn’t happening. The toddler sat on the bench beside me, leaned her little head over and asked, “What’s wrong mommy?” It wasn’t hard to respond. It wasn’t complicated for a young child to understand.
“I miss grandpa.”
And with that, the tears ebbed. I have a young, active family to keep up with, and we had big plans to attend a family Christmas gathering a few hours later. And not only that, but there was snow, glorious snow to be enjoyed outside. My dad always took us kids outside to play when we’d had a big snowstorm, mismatched and wrongly sized gear and all, and I wasn’t about to let my own children down. So we played, we made snow ice cream, we drank hot chocolate and we went to that family shindig. We lived. The only antidote to death.