The other day, I was taking down the Christmas tree and a tremendous sadness overcame me. I knew why I was sad, and I knew before I started the task that I would be sad. You see, six years ago my wife and I were taking down the Christmas tree and she had a seizure. We both knew the cause. Six months prior to that Christmas, she had had surgery to remove a brain tumor. After the surgery and extensive radiation therapy, we were foolishly convinced that the tumor would not return. The seizure was the first indication that we were wrong. Nine months later she died.
When I was a young boy, I always had a fairly extensive amount of hair on my legs and arms. Whenever I would cut or scrape myself– which occurred frequently with two older brothers–I would place a band-aid over the wound to stop the blood. Band-aids are extremely effective for this purpose. But, the band aid must eventually be removed. I learned early on that there are two ways to accomplish this removal: by lifting up one edge and slowly pulling it off as it sticks to each individual piece of hair, or by rapidly yanking it off all at once. While there might be room for reasonable debate as to the best removal method, let me just say that I prefer the latter. I have no stomach for delaying the process. In the end, rapid removal is no more painful, but the process is over much more quickly.
Which brings me back to the Christmas tree. Christmas came and went this year, as did New Years. The day after New Years I knew that I had two choices when it came to the dried up tree: I could find things to occupy my day and stall the process, or I could just get it done and move on. I did the latter.
So often we avoid direct confrontation with our inner demons. We delay and convince ourselves that there is no hurry, no reason to disturb the emotional band-aid. But, what I have found is that emotional scars, like band-aids must eventually be dealt with. The question then becomes, should I do it slowly, or should I rip it off all at once? Only you can make that decision, but moving on is impossible until the whole band-aid comes off.
Happy New Year.
For more information about surviving life’s tragedies, read my book The Freshly Single Man.