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Not So Very Merry

December 4, 2013

It is December, and it seems like everywhere I look, I see a hole shaped like my mother.

It blurs my vision, and with it a  hard bitter ache I can’t seem to swallow.

I thought that with time, loss would grow more gentle, less acute. That  years would wear down sharp edges like a pebble in the sand.

I was wrong. It does not ease or dull as time passes. I think I’ve simply grow more able to bear it’s crushing weight. The pain of her loss is just as vivid today as the day she died. When I let down my guard, I can hardly breathe.

This has been an especially hard week. Her birthday, then Thanksgiving — a holiday she loved because it coincided with her birthday—  and now I’m supposed to be all merry and jolly and full of good cheer, but I’m not. I looked back at what I’ve written over the years  and find that this has become a predictable lyric in my writing each year.

It’s hard not to think about what might have been. How she’d be a part of our lives.

Alina, a gifted author and friend of mine, once wrote about the loss of her father. Like standing on the sidewalk in the snow, looking into a beautiful, joy-filled room but we’re not allowed inside. We only get to watch. To dream, but never actually experience what life would have been like had our parent lived.

She writes in Christmas From the Outside:

Christmas celebrations, at least in America, are glazed with fuzzy feelings. Lights deck out dark windows, sugary drinks abound at Starbucks, songs about cherubs and snuggling and pumpkin pie flood the radio. Even most Christian carols are exclusively about Joy to the World and Peace on Earth at this time of year, sweeping the rest under the rug ‘til January. But that glitzy window display of sentimentalism divides people. Either you’re rockin’ around the Christmas tree, or you’re fogging the glass from the outside, wondering why you can’t hear the music.

I’ll drift a bit, treading water, getting by, coping with the checklist before eventually finding my fix once again.

But I’m not there yet. Today is for remembering and allowing myself to ache awhile, to ache for what could have been. What one day will be again.

And because we’re not going to wallow too deeply, here’s a clip from one of my favoritest movies, which speaks to precisely the way we, the ones who are left behind, are feeling at this moment.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. Rebekah Cahoon permalink
    December 4, 2013 8:31 pm

    November is a mourning month for me as well, so the joy of the season is a mix of bittersweet with the blessings. I cannot know how you feel because grief is such an individual experience. Grief has been a companion for so many years, that I wonder sometimes whether we will ever not be together. I do like your analogy of the pebble, and for me that is how grief has evolved. It used to be very sharp and painful, but over the years has become softer and easier to hold. I don’t have any profound words to offer, but please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers. I miss your mom as well; your words have touched my heart today.

  2. December 5, 2013 5:17 am

    I cling to the Christian belief that one day we will all be united with our loved ones in heaven. At this point in my life, I have lived for more years of my lifer without my mother than the years I lived with her. I still miss her very much. Even though she is gone from this earth, I see her face every time I look at my oldest daughter. There is no doubt that she has left her mark on this world. As parents, we all live on through our children and through our children’s children. I see the proof every day.

    I will say a prayer today for your mom and mine.

  3. December 5, 2013 9:42 pm

    You are extra shiny today with this post. Thank you for being so open and honest with where you are at.

  4. Linda Cannon permalink
    December 5, 2013 10:17 pm

    I met you last month at the women’s conference at Bridges Community Church. At the time, my mother’s health was rapidly deteriorating after she suffered a stroke. She was in emotional and physical pain, and unable to communicate. I prayed for the end to her suffering, as I knew she would be with the Lord. God orchestrated her home-going in ways we could not imagine. It was Thanksgiving week, and we arrived in Oregon on Saturday night. My sister and I went to visit. The next morning, the nurse called to say Mom was nearing the end of her earthly life. My son and daughter-in-law took my dad to visit. When they returned, my son told my niece and me that it would not be long.
    My niece, Charlotte, and I rushed to the nursing home, and my cousin arrived, just as we did. Cousin Karen had just lost her father just a short two weeks before, and her pain was fresh, but she remembered to bring her Bible, and read to us from Psalms, while Charlotte and I held Mom’s hands.
    Mom’s breathing-really just little gulps for air, gradually slowed, and then stopped. I felt it was a peaceful end to her earthly presence.
    God had answered my second prayer- to be present when Mom went to be with Jesus.
    Shortly after she had gone, the rest of the family arrived. They knew it had not been in God’s plan for them to be there at the end.
    We all returned to California, and laid my mother’s worn, earthly remains to rest the day after Thanksgiving. The memorial was attended by many beloved family members….
    Today, I set up the voice mail on my home phone- a task I had put off for months. As I checked the waiting messages, there was one from Mom- another little blessing from the Lord. I heard Mom’s earthly voice one last time.

    • December 6, 2013 8:56 am

      Linda, what a precious, grace-filled gift from God! I hope you saved that voicemail…thank you for sharing with all of us how God answered your prayers! Grace and peace…

  5. December 9, 2013 5:52 pm

    As I read this, I just realized that everyone I’ve lost was in December or first of January. I get this–there will be an extra big hole this Christmas with it the first one without my Grandpa, the one who made stockings a fun tradition, eating off china plates, sleigh rides, and Christmas morning all so special. Your words always soothe my soul.

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