This is my gift

This will be the 21st Christmas without my mom… and oh how she loved Christmas. She loved the decorating, wrapping presents (all in matching paper), cookie baking, and general holiday cheer. The holidays were a jolly time at our house and this part of the year causes me to remember her at a deep level.

The first few years after she died, Christmas was hard… gut-wrenching. The first Christmas we went to the beach and did none of the normal traditions. As the years went by we continued some traditions and developed many new. At some point, I realized while I missed mom, I needed to be completely thankful for what I did have… because the family around me is remarkable and so much more than many ever have in a lifetime.

Since Keaton was born, Christmas has developed a new excitement and joy. He loves decorating our Christmas tree with all the special ornaments as much as I do. I bake and bake until I can’t bake anymore and we love our annual Christmas party.

A few weeks ago, I just felt down. I didn’t know if I was tired from a challenging few months. Then one night it hit me… I missed my mom in a very deep way… in a way I had not in a long time. I started to cry as I talked about missing her. I explained to Matthew how logically I can’t understand missing someone so much… I now have lived more life without her than with her. He looked at me with such compassion and said, “Of course you miss her.” I looked at him and said, “I know I do, but I don’t want to.”

You see that is the spiral of grief… it never ends, even if you want it to be complete. It doesn’t matter how much I feel like I have conquered the grief, it pokes its head up in a new way. It does not come as regularly as it once did and maybe that is why I get frustrated. I don’t even expect to miss my mom and then it hits me in the face so unexpectedly…. No reason except I just miss her. I think I would understand better if there was a reason to miss her, but there isn’t… I just miss her… and I have to accept that this is life and it is ok. It is ok I have been grieving her for 21 Christmases and I will continue.

In the movie Shadowlands, CS Lewis is talking to his wife Joy who is dying. She looks at him and says the happiness now is part of the pain later…

I miss my mom at Christmas because the joy at Christmas was so deep… if it hadn’t been so wonderful, I wouldn’t miss her… this I realize is my gift. The grief is a reminder of the depth of love and the goodness she brought to my life… a gift that continues every year.

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