035. The Art of the Holidays

There’s been much on my mind as of late as we’ve approached the holiday season. I’ve been wary of the stigma that losing those close to you has around this time of year. Everyone wondering (not the least of which yourself) if you’re going to be “ok” during the traditional “family” time that is Christmas. Should I end up being incredibly sad? Experience my losses all over again…and again? Should everything continue as if nothing has changed but time itself? Who is to know?

My lovely bride decided that with the amount of loss and the trigger that the holidays can be might be better served by our being somewhere else entirely, so she arranged for our family to be in the mountains and snow for this week; a declaration I came to realize that wasn’t necessarily for me, but more for her. I was later corrected of that notion by my therapist who noted that I was kind of being a jerk by trying to push my adjustments for grief on my wife in light of her doing something nice and caring for little ol’ me. Regardless, here we are in 20 degree weather and 4 inches of snow last night and I found myself enjoying the peaceful quiet such atmosphere brings, reading my mother’s Kindle outside by myself with my family inside enjoying a peaceful Christmas Eve afternoon doing puzzles, baking, watching Christmas movies, and generally just enjoying thoroughly each other’s company. I’ll say that as of right now, this was a superior idea to staying at home for the holiday, however the feeling of loss is close at my fingertips. I am reminded fast of the day my father passed two years ago and even more recently the morning my mother permanently went to sleep to meet him. They are both in such a better off place where they sing joyfully to the fulfillment of all that we celebrate the coming of this time of year. It marks my first Christmas as an orphan and reluctant holder of my parents humble, but infinitely honorable legacy.

I hope that as distance separates us from these last few years in losing them that I will remember the last few months of conversations with my dear mother before she passed. She had such peace in her last few months which lent to some very interesting and wonderful dialogue. One of the sweetest things she had said to me was actually (and fortunately) via SMS in which she said that she wasn’t sure how it worked exactly, but if there were any way to let me know that she was near, she would. It’s been months since she said that to me, but I feel she’s been there when I’ve needed her the most lately coming in the form of her favorite bird, a hummingbird that I’ve seen so close to me a few times since February. Every time, I can’t help but be reminded of that conversation with my momma. Granted, neither of us knows how it works, but I’d take relying on some wisdom my wife had about the afterlife shortly after losing her cousin suddenly in 2015. She had said that our God, who loves us and has the ability to make the veil between our “now and not yet” and their very much “now and always” so thin that we can feel their presence can make that happen, who are we to question His goodness in our very human condition that experiences loss so deeply. I’d like to think that’s how this works. That my God, infinitely caring and loving, can provide peace to me in this fashion, gloriously inexplicable peace and comfort. That’s who HE is. The God of all comfort, even and especially in loss. He is God with us. Emmanuel. That is what I feel most this year, reminded of who He is to me. Close to the broken-hearted reminding me who I am, where I came from, and where we’re going.

Merry Christmas to all of you wherever you are, in whatever grief or joy you’re in.


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