Every year, when August gets here, I know that December is just around the corner. And I dread it. December is like swallowing all the regret I've had for every year before. It weighs me down.
In August, when it hits triple digits every single day, when the sweat pops up at just the thought of going outside, I know that I'll blink my eyes, and December will be here.
Sometimes I feel like hiding inside, as if that will keep big, bad December away. I know it's supposed to be that magical time of year when you're with family on Christmas. It's the last month of the year, it's the ending, counting down to the beginning of something new.
December always sticks around for far too long for me. The days drag by, this very last month, the very last of the year, where you see people in twos, always in twos, and here I am, forever a one some, just a little bit of leftover that hasn't yet been cleaned up.
December is when I hold on with everything I am, with every bit of my will. December is when I shine it on the hardest, December is the make or break month for me.
It feels like being on an icy pond, wearing slick soled shoes. I keep trying to move forward, to walk, trying to get off this place, trying, trying, trying, and I keep falling. I keep falling, and maybe I'm able to move forward the tiniest bit. But I keep trying. That's the important thing, isn't it? I try, and I get back up. And I fall. But I keep trying. And keep falling. I have the bruised hands and knees to prove it.
But I can't be sad. Never. Never in life. Because some people don't know the difference between sad and depression. If I could tell them, I'd tell them that sad is normal. Sad is only three or four jumps from happy, most days. At least sad means I'm feeling. Depression is that well that everything ends up falling into. Emotions, friends, and the things I want the most.
Bad is getting lost in that fog, because once you're in it, lost and caught up, it's easier to just hide there. It's easy to hide, because otherwise, there are things to face that make the depression seem almost like a vacation.
Those deceptively idle insults, things about state of mind and did you take your medicine today. It feels like a rock hitting a wound that has just started to heal. It's reaching for the most vulnerable of hurt places, and twisting. It's a slap followed by a kiss.
And even as I've told him about all this, things about how some of the best people I've ever known were people like me, stories I can't tell anyone else, names I will never forget (Ronnie Sam Jamie Levi) because of the look in their eyes. Judgement. Contempt. Condescension, that vaccination against compassion.
I get to the end of it, I tell him, and I'm exhausted with the telling of it. I'm exhausted at showing the wounds, the scars, the names of people who were there for me, the names that might as well be carved on my soul, for the debt of gratitude I owe them.
I get to the end of it, and he says the most beautiful words. Words that cradle the broken places, places I've patched over with my very best efforts. You hold hands until they can let go, not when you need to.
Somehow, instead of seeing what the mirror tells him, he was able to really see. It shouldn't be able to take away the bruised places, the words, like a kiss on a bruise, shouldn't be able to make them ache any less, but it does.
Just like that, he helps me up off that ice, helps me until I'm ready to let go, because he knows December is my worst month. He knows that I am a broken mirror that's been glued back together.
He knows that thing that I've been trying to tell myself, that I've been trying to hold onto. The one about hope, how if you only have a little, then a little is enough.
I remember seeing people who looked the way I used to look, and how I was never too busy to reach out a hand to them, a hand to steady them, not because I'm brave, but because sometimes you're off balance without knowing it. Sometimes I reach out as much to steady myself as to share what I have to give. And he somehow...knew.
Just that one brush of a life against another one. So soft, so tenderly meant, the words that were the kiss that took the ache away. And when it was all over, it was his hand that pulled me away from that patch of ice.