Yesterday was the 11th of December. That makes it 2 years since my Grampa died and I can hardly believe that’s true. The sharpness of missing him is duller now, but it still stabs me. I cried a lot yesterday (i cry a lot a lot, I’m okay with tears) and in the evening I spoke to my Gram which helped so much, but then that too made me cry for missing her. Living in England means I’m always missing people. People who are 1000’s of miles and 1000’s of £’s away. Family & friends who’s lives I miss so much of. Then there’re the people I won’t see again in this life, the ones no airplane or lottery win can take me to. The missing is a physical ache, the longing for one more conversation, one more laugh. It’s hardest during the preparation for Christmas (I’m sure this is something everyone deals with to some degree or another).
For me, as a kid…Christmas was just magical and wonderful. I had my family and couldn’t have asked for more. My Grandparents, my Mom, and her 2 sisters…beautiful and fun Auntie Susan (who one year hand made me dozens of Barbie outfits, she’s only 15 years older than me and I thought she was the most perfect person on the planet), my honest and protective Auntie Cheryl (who gave me a sense of strength and safety in every situation, who baked for, cooked for and nurtured everyone she could get her hands on). I had my Uncles and my little cousins and we would be together on many Christmas mornings. As I got older we weren’t always ALL together, but every year I had my mom and my Grandparents. Mom, Gram and I would (every year without fail) watch The Sound of Music and sing along to each song. Our family history is bright with traditions and memories of repeating them are precious to me.
Then I had my own children and that made Christmas even more full of wonder. I delighted myself with their joy. I love the anticipation and pleasure of giving gifts, so that too was made even better as the years went on and I could find that magical special gift that would light my children’s faces. They joined in our old family traditions and we made some new ones of our own. Christmas time was all about being together…the gifts were only the cherry on top of that – already awesome – ice cream sundae of wonderful. If I did cry at Christmas, they were almost always only tears of happiness.
The year my mom died that changed for me, and the next year we knew Emlyn had Rett. The year after that I realised that when I watched The Sound of Music it was the most bittersweet feeling. I sang the songs (it’s impossible not to) but tears ran down my smiling face as I did. Each year since I’ve found that the joy is rimmed with sadness. Like the emotional equivalent of a Margarita – salt on the edges. The happiness of now makes me long for then. The nostalgia chokes me and yet also soothes me. I miss home, I miss home as it was and will never be again. I miss childhood and the people who filled it.
Yesterday a friend lost a friend. Today my tears are also for her.
There’s no way to avoid losing the ones we love, there’s no life worth living that escapes loss. To love is to risk. I don’t think there’s any way to protect your heart that doesn’t involve hardening it and bending it out of shape. As each year goes by, and the tears fall when I hear O Holy Night, or Away in a Manger…I thank God that my life has had – and does have – so much home in it.
When I need to get home you’re my guiding light, you’re my guiding light.