Wednesday, December 30, 2009

An Unlikely Christmas Story

Do you remember the theme song from the movie MASH? It was a song called "Suicide is Painless". It's not.

On Thanksgiving Day our family and friends all gathered at my daughter's house for a wonderful feast. Her housemate, Stephani, had done the bird, and I can honestly say I have never had a turkey that was more perfectly done. She had done a salt brine on the inside of it and then a rub with wonderful herbs and spices. We were all up and happy that day, with lots of laughter.

Stephani has spent the past two Christmas Days with our family. Her family is all in Tennessee, so she opted to stay in Seattle and celebrate with us. I made her a Christmas Stocking at the same time as I made the ones for my son-in-law and his sweet daughter. My daughter and her husband and Stephani had talked about what games to bring with them this year for that after-dinner, after-presents lull.

On December 10, 2009, Stephani ended her life. She researched it thoroughly and found a way that would be fairly easy. She timed it so that she knew none of her housemates would be home until that night. And at about 11 am she left this life.

This event has blown apart everyone whose life Steph touched. All of us who loved her - and still do - are left feeling shocked, angry, betrayed, hurt, and deeply saddened. She very effectively hid what was going on inside her from all of us - even those with whom she lived.

She left all of her belongings to the young man who she knew would be the one who found her. She left letters for the other housemates, but no explanations as to why she chose to do this.

There was no way to have our usual Christmas just two weeks after this happened. So this year, I bought an artificial tree with fiber optic lights and place plain silver balls on it instead of our usual hodge-podge of ornaments. My husband and I decided that we wanted to have food that was totally unlike what we usually have for our feast too. We decided on Asian food. We had Butter Chicken and nan, and Mongolian beef and pea pods with water chestnuts for our main meal. We had crab rangoon, coconut shrimp and pot stickers for appetizers. We had that wonderful chicken and coconut soup with the lemon grass and cilantro as our second course. And for dessert we had a rice dish with nutmeg, cinnamon and coconut milk that was sweet and lovely.

Maybe next year we will be able to go back to some of our traditions . . . but I think none of us had the heart to do it this year.

Stephani - wherever you are, I hope that you are at peace. I love you and always will. And damn it, I'm going to miss your laugh.