It’s Christmas Eve morning, and after feeding and loving on the kitty, I made myself some coffee and am now sitting down to read more of my book: “The 36 Hour Day”, to keep prepping for how to best love and help my dad, as his disease continues to slowly progress. There is no Christmas tree to stare longingly at this year, as we decided against getting one, for multiple reasons. Instead, I’m looking at the holiday / Christmas cards that we have received from some friends and family, and they are providing me with evidence of the incredible love, friendships, and people that I have in my life. These cards also provide me with proof of my own ever-evolving grief tsunami.
Years ago, right after Don’s sudden death, receiving and seeing these Christmas cards from others was like a direct stab right into my then Grinch-like, broken heart. It made me angry to have to literally stare at all these families, with their perfect-looking kids and their perfect spouses and their perfect Christmas trees, and their perfect happy lives. All I could focus on back then was that my life was gone. My husband was dead. We would never have our family together. We would never get our life together. I tossed a lot of those cards right into the trash back then (sorry!), as I wondered to myself how I could or would ever love Christmas ever again.
Grief changes when life changes; and when life changes, grief changes. And through it all, the thing that changes the most is US. We begin to change and evolve and alter into our new realities, if we can be courageous enough to invite grief in to teach us her lessons. If we can stop pushing her away, and just listen. Listen to her wisdom. Listen to her shrill voice.
So here I sit, more than a dozen years later, with a very different Christmas brewing, right alongside my coffee.
These days, and this year especially, it is a more subtle Christmas. It is quieter. It is filled with the knowing of loss and death and hardships that are still to come. There will not be a lot of gift-giving, or presents being opened, or promises of things to come in the New Year. These things will be replaced by the unknowing, some fear, determination, and quite a few teaspoons of exhausted resilience.
It is okay. Maybe it will be more than okay. Eventually.
For now, I will do my best to embrace how things are, instead of how I wish for them to be.
I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. And if that is not possible right now, I hope you have a Christmas that is filled with peace, love, and hope for things to come.
Thanks for reading.