Losing Someone Near the Holidays Sucks
Last week my baby...well she is 7 but still my baby, Caylee, was playing in my closet and pulled out a pair of pink slippers.
“Mama, I love these!”
“I do too, Caylee.” I muttered as tear filled my eyes quickly.
I forgot I had them stashed in my closet. They have so many memories tied to them.
I love them more than someone should love slippers not because they are a thing but because they were the last Christmas gift my Mom gave me.
I’ve held on to the “last” things for a long time. Even her nightgown she wore, oh and a soft pillow she rested her head on.
It’s almost been 13 years since our last Christmas together. December 29th 2007, Jesus called her home.
We sat around her bed in her hospice room and held her as she made her way to Heaven.
That Christmas was as different as ever.
We put up this sparkly tree in her room, we had take out for Christmas Eve dinner and soaked up as much of each other as we could. Trying to make it special like Christmas is supposed to be.
It was as different as could be.
The holidays and grief take the wind out of my sails.
My ship doesn’t want to keep going.
My brain gets stuck.
My heart gets so achy.
My heart feels envious and I hate it.
I see Mamas and daughters shopping and doing all the things they are supposed to do together. I see smiles and laughter and I wish so badly that was me and her browsing the aisles of Target, together. I hate admitting that but even 13 years later, I still want that.
I expect people to know the aches of my heart. I expect them to care more. I expect them to soothe the pain that is so concentrated this time of year more than ever. It is the worst expectation to hold.
When you lose that special person, everyone else’s life goes on but yours slowly stalls and then very slowly proceeds forward differently. Everything changes. Traditions, routines...all of it. Her phone calls at 8am "Good Morning, Annabelle!" end, her Sunday roast beef dinners stop, her candy bowls filled with Good N' Plenty disappear.
I sit in wonder some days...what would today look like? Would my kids have slumber parties with their Grandma Connie? Would she live near us? Would we still have Sunday dinners? Maybe mid week coffee dates? I wonder a lot.
Grief is a never ending road. There is no “healed” destination. It is not a linear path. It winds, it's slow, it's hilly. Some days it's a coast and feels okay and some days it's a triathlon that you have never trained for.
I do believe we get better at taking steps forward and navigating the through the blind spots that come up along the way but the holidays push me back a bit. I have gotten pretty keen on recognizing the feelings as they swarm me now more than ever.
The testiness I get with my husband is usually my grief.
The chaos and overwhelm I sit in is usually my grief.
The impatience with my kids is usually my grief.
The envy and jealousy of the Mother Daughter relationships I see is usually my grief.
Practice makes progress, right? Isn't that what I preach?
I think as the years pass the date they left us we feel this need to have to “be strong” “find the good” “relish in the memories”...I think those are all healthy ways to keep moving forward and absolutely necessary but I also need someone to remind me that it’s okay to just feel a little sad some days, especially now.
It is okay to ugly cry in your car when "Mary's Boy Child" comes on (the song we would sing at the top of our lungs, together), or t0 talk about her as if she is here decorating and getting ready for Christmas with you.
I need someone to care enough to listen to me while I work through those achy days. I don't need someone to fully understand it but be willing to sit with me in it for just a bit.
A friend once told me that grief is like a thumbprint...we all have a different print, a different journey. Your grief looks different than mine or hers or his. One can not be compared to another.
We are not "one upping" grief. It all sucks. ALL OF IT.
When I look at the big picture, I know I have been blessed exponentially. I have healthy kids. A deeply loving husband. A family that loves me, the up and down me. Friends that show up and care. I know those are all gifts from God. It is His hand on my life.
I know when I recall the memories I had with my Mom, I see gifts.
Gifts that God was presenting me with along the way, knowing exactly when He would call her home but using those 24 years He gave me her to place memories inside of my heart and my mind so that as I grieved her I would have them to open up again and again and feel the love that she so graciously shared with me.
I don't understand the timing of life. I don't get it at all.
Why does God bring young kids or babies back to Heaven so soon?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do healthy people get sick and die?
Why do young kids lose their parents before they even know them?
I have questions too. A lot of them. I will ask God one day and I will choose to lean on the truth that He is good and His way is best.
I just will choose that because HOPE is healing and HOPE helps soothe the aches in my heart as I walk through grief.
My hope is that you feel HOPE in the sad days ahead. My hope is that you unwrap those memories in your mind, again and again. They are sweet gifts from God. Tender Mercies He bestows on us to unwrap during dark days so that we may feel Him during our grief walk.
Hope is all we have. It is a choice we get to make everyday.
May the hope you choose today soothe the aches in your grief filled heart. May hope come to you and help point you forward. May God walk beside you in this pain as a friend, behind you as an encourager and in front of you as your leader.
I am sending warmth and deep love to your tender heart this season and beyond.