We did it. We survived our first Christmas without you. It was hard. Then it was OK. And there were moments of true joy. And then moments where my heart felt it would burst. Through it all you were in our hearts, and I think whispering around us, in the warm breeze, in the sounds of the birds and in the spirit of Christmas. I could feel you close, even if not able to touch you. We will be OK. You made sure we were strong. We will continue to move forward every day and make you proud by finding beauty in this world and many reasons to smile. Love and miss you always Mom. – Me
We all have hard times that we have to get through. And some are harder than others. This was a tough one. This was a big one. What do you do when these times come about? I don’t know. My guess, or at least what seems to work for me, is just putting my head down and get through it. I am not sure that there is a formula for getting through the hard parts. I know that is not the popular thing to say, as many writers have made millions writing thousands of books on how to get through it. The secret – It’s just time. You put one foot in front of the other and take many, many baby steps. And after time, a lot of time, you look back and see how many miles further you have traveled.
I received many messages of love and support about how hard this first Christmas without Mom would be, And it was; there were moments that were brutal. I have always said that my life is like a sitcom, but this Christmas was more like a dramedy…Dad took a bad fall and had to be in a rehab facility building up his strength during Christmas. But we were allowed to sign him bust him out for Christmas. Never did I think I would be spring my Dad out of rehab for Christmas, but I live for adventure. And I have never seen anyone so excited to be home.
Christmas Eve, after everyone went to bed, I sat on the couch sobbing while looking at the beautiful Christmas tree, wishing, hoping, aching, for my Mother. I cried for everything I have lost and would never have again. I mourned the things that we would never do together, my mother and me. The gifts not bought, cards not given, and adventures not to be had. And I fell asleep for a bit, there on the couch, by the tree with so many of her ornaments. And I thought I felt her arms around me, heard her voice whisper on my ear. And I woke up feeling very loved.
And there were moments when Joy came in, like the sun breaking through the clouds. Christmas morning came and there were gifts and smiles and so much love. Seeing Dad excited, looking at all wrapping and bows and ribbons. Unwrapping everything with childlike enthusiasm. And my wonderful man, our second Christmas together, much different than we thought it would be. Watching them both get gifts that they loved. And there were Christmas carols, and the Christmas movies, and Christmas stockings, and then…Christmas dinner.
And I swear I could hear her laughing and see her smiling. She loved Christmas. And at that moment I knew. We were going to be OK. We had finally turned a corner in this thing called grief. We got thought it, we survived. We laughed and cried and remembered. And at the end of the day, we were all OK. And that’s the thing about love and grief. Even when you feel like it is going to kill you, it really doesn’t.
Today it has been six months since Mom went into the hospital for her procedure. I met her at the hospital to stay with her so she wouldn’t be alone. The time spent with her then in priceless. And we just had Christmas. And finally, FINALLY, the sadness is not overwhelming. And I think she would be proud.
I looked at pictures of my mother from several years ago when she was still happy and healthy. She was so beautiful. Always smiling with that mischievous look in her eye. I had forgotten what that smile looked like, she had been tired for so long by the time she passed. I choose to remember her that way – beautiful, happy, smiling, free.
And finally I can smile.