An Atypical Year

In the bumper at the start of the week, the amorphous management asked of us writers, “Do they love this time of year or hate it? Are the holidays a time of coming together or pulling apart?”

And my heart broke, because this year, it’s all of that.

I usually love holidays. I love visiting family. I love the frantic planning to make sure everyone is included. I love the food and the crafting and the wine and the sleepless nights. There’s nearly never drama, even though we divide our time between three families.

In a typical year, when January 1st rolls around, I feel empty. All the celebrations are over. The decorations come down, and we have to return to the real world. We get to check out our pocketbooks and cringe. So, that sucks.

It hit earlier this year.

I found out last week that one of my best friends from college and his wife hit a patch of black ice on the interstate, and he didn’t make it. It places a pall over the snow I so desperately wanted before Christmas. On the day after Christmas, we’re going to a funeral. When we ring in the New Year, we have to realize that one of our own is gone.

We’ll be with the largest group of our friends since everyone graduated, and for all the wrong reasons.

The… good, I guess, thing is that I have three-year-old — we found out on the 22nd, but it can’t bring our holiday to a halt. The child is still looking forward to a visit from Santa. He’s expecting to have family over, he’s looking forward to presents. In a way, that’s a blessing in itself.

I don’t know how this is going to change how I feel in the future. If every holiday is going to be marred by the loss — how long it will be before the date passes and I don’t notice. But for this year, its like someone stole all the air from the room.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.


  • I am so so sorry for your loss, woman. A loss at any time is devastating, but it’s definitely made worse around this time of year. Sending love and hugs to you and your family.

    • Thanks. It’s weird, because he lived out of state — it’d been two years since we got to hang out, so missing Jason is normal. Its the moments when it hits me that he’s gone forever when it really hurts.

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