Monday, December 21, 2009

The 541st Time

Tonight was my oldest's holiday music concert at the new school. I found myself overcome with various emotions throughout the event. Sam had to work so I stood alone in the hallway prior to the doors being opened for seating with tears in my eyes. Even 220 miles from home and at a new school I cannot escape my widowed status. If I was at home, I'd be attending the concert alone and that has had such a wearing effect on me throughout the years. Here, I don't know anyone. Back home I'd have had to smile or nod at people I know which can be even more distressing. Always pretending to be okay. Tonight I felt like screaming at all the couples I saw. "It's not fair," I wanted to rage. "None of you have had to feel this relentless pain. It has been six years and it doesn't go away - especially at holiday concerts."

In the past six years I estimate that between baseball, football, wrestling. soccer, cross country, track, volleyball, band, orchestra, jazz band, dance, drama, school open house, conferences and staffings I have attended at least 540 events for the boys on my own.

I eventually got off that frame of negativity to observe the parents and family members before the concert. This is a working class town unlike the upper-middle to upper class community I come from. There were so many dads wearing jeans and work shirts with their names stitched on them. The dads back home would be in suits having come home from their mostly professional jobs. But I found the work shirts comforting in a way. Real people doing an honest days work and all that.

My son sat on stage chatting away with his fellow band members just as he would have done back home - always Mr. Popularity. It was a good observation to make because I could see firsthand that he is engaging with these new students. He is a very handsome and tall young man who looked pretty striking in his band tux. They wear a tux as the uniform back home too.

While at these events there is a point where I start thinking about my husband and regretting that he is not there to see that at least one of his sons kept up the music lessons. He would be so proud since he was a semi-professional singer himself. Pride, regret, sadness, rage, pain, discomfort and enjoyment all at the same time. Just attend a holiday concert on your own as an only parent and you'll feel these emotions and more!

The band wasn't as good as back home but one of the choirs was better. I saw all the kids performing and was just struck that it doesn't matter where you end up living. Kids in towns all over the country have been putting on these holiday concerts the past month. The one at the old school is a Sunday afternoon extravaganza four hours long (how nutty is that?). It was nice to attend one that was more simple and understated. They performed works that have been banned in our school district such as "Silent Night" and "Away in the Manger" and it was good to hear them again after so long.

There were two medium sized Christmas trees lit with white lights on each side of the stage and garlands also lit with the lights. It was elegant.

Listening to the music helped dry my tears. This holiday season has been devoid of much celebration and cheer but I felt some seeing the decorations on stage and hearing the old familiar Christmas songs.

I camcorded the concert. Back home, practically every family would be doing so. I saw only one other parent doing so tonight. As my son and I drove the short distance from the school to the house, it was snowing. My son was demanding and said, "I hope you plan on driving me tomorrow because I don't want to walk in this stuff." Back to reality with my teenager. I wished I could go back to the concert which ended up being a rather pleasant diversion - even attending alone and getting all caught up in the widow stuff at the start.


  1. I could almost visualize you standing there in the hallway keeping your demons inside yourself. It's so damn hard, isn't it? Well done for going. Well done for being a good Mom. Well done for managing to enjoy the old Christmas songs.

    I am proud of you. I'm sure your husband was looking on with pride at you and your sons.

  2. I am so glad to hear even for a brief moment that all of the sadness left you and that you were able to enjoy the concert with your son. You take such pride in your boys and it shows with all that you do for them. Because they are teenagers it is hard for them to understand the sacrifice you give.

  3. Boo - I think we all have our hot spots. For me, it comes up at holiday concerts and events I have to attend on my own. So your description of it being demons inside me was accurate!

    Debra - I actually wished that I did not have to leave the concert and that it could have gone on longer!