Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmases past and present

December 23rd is called “Little Christmas Eve” here since we celebrate the evening of the 24th as our Big Christmas (Christmas Day is not that much of a deal over here, we’ve already had our presents).

Sigve and I spent 33 Christmas’es together. First it was just us, then in 1982 Geir Espen joined us, and in 1985 Hilde Marie had also arrived. Over the years we alternated between Kristiansand (with my parents), Bømlo (with Sigve’s parents), by ourselves in Stavanger and later in Bømlo.

Quite early in our young family’s life we decided that we wanted to create our own Christmas traditions, in our own home, marrying each of our traditions. We also decided that it was easier for grown-ups to drive for 4-6 hours than it was for us and 2 kids to do the same. So whoever wanted to come and join us were welcome to do so, and we spent many lovely family Christmas Eves as a nuclear and extended family.

In later years, after our parent had left us, we were back to the four of us. One year it was even just Geir Espen, Sigve and I, when Hilde Marie and Jon Helge spent Christmas Eve with her new in-laws. Other years Hilde Marie joined us if Jon Helge had to work on Christmas Eve. 

Christmas 2011 was the last time that Geir Espen was with us for the holidays. I am so grateful that I have so many photos from those days. Helmer had joined us, and Geir Espen loved being an uncle. Sigve’s cancer was gone, and he was well. Such happy days.

Geir Espen died on July 14, 2012.

Christmas 2012. Our first Christmas without Geir Espen. How do you live through something like that? 
We had already realized that our lives had to go on, and the only way they could go on was in a good way. Nothing, and nothing else made sense.

Christmas 2014.
Facebook keeps telling me that 2014 was a great year for me. What do they know.

Although, in many ways they are right. Sigve and I always enjoyed spending time together. 33+ years of friendship and marriage creates a familiarity, a closeness, a togetherness that settled in our bones.

We moved from Bømlo to Tysnes to be closer to Hilde Marie and her family. We both loved the everyday closeness to Helmer.

Helmer is the grandchild that Sigve was afraid he would never get to meet. Just before Christmas 2009, when he got the leukemia diagnosis, Sigve said that if this was the end, his only regret was that he might not get to be a grandfather.

Then he went through the chemo and the stem cell transplant, and he was ok, and in February 2011 Helmer arrived. They developed an awesomely strong bond.

In January 2014 we learned that a new grandchild was on it’s way. 

In February 2014 Sigve and I went on a 15 day holiday to Malta, a place we had wanted to go back to ever since we spent one day there during a cruise.

We have travelled a lot over the last 15 years.  Our travels were one of Sigve’s main items of gratefulness at his diagnosis in 2009. That we had seized the opportunities that came along. That we had not said, we’ll do it when we retire. We have traveled the world, and we have loved it. Europe, the United States, South America, Asia, Australia, and many cruises. On our own, and with friends. We have loved it. Sigve had not done any travelling when we met. I was already a globetrotter. And he thanked me many times for turning him on to travelling. The one item on our bucket list that we didn’t make was Iceland, but I think he can go there now, any time he wants.

Then on August 28, Leon arrived, 2,5 weeks premature. I don’t believe in a controlling god, but I think this was meant to be. Sigve got to spend time with Leon during his course of chemo. Leon smiled at Sigve, and grabbed his finger tightly. This warmed his heart. I think Sigve knew the road ahead. He told me, this one will be a grandma’s boy.

Sigve died on October 30, 2014.

Christmas 2014. My first Christmas without Sigve. How do I live through it? I have already realized that my life has to go on, and it has to go on in a good way. Nothing, and nothing else makes sense.

Generation follows generation. The newest generation that Sigve loved and I love so much. I will follow up to the best of my ability. At the moment I am crushed, but I know I will prevail.

Shortly after his death, Sigve came to a friend of ours and said, don’t worry about Inger-Marie, she’s tough, she’ll be ok. This comforts me, and I know it’s true, even though it reduces me to tears as I write it.

Sigve, the love of my life, I don’t know how I can live without you, and yet I know that I can.

I’ll love you forever!



In hospital October 2014

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