Sometimes we just don't want to make it a Hallmark moment.
News flash: This time of year ain't always merriment and mistletoe for everybody. For a variety of reasons, the holidays can suck for many of us. For some, it's a battle to create a festive atmosphere or supply presents under the tree when there's precious little money and no gainful employment. For others, it's an empty nest or an empty bed that brings out one's Inner Scrooge. If you are like me, the holidays can be a painful reminder of a loved one's death.
The next few days will undoubtedly be rife with love, laughter, yummy food, and fun presents to give and receive. Yet, there will also be a part of me -- a part of a lot of us -- that will be yearning for that missing someone around the dinner table. For me, it's my mom. For others, it may be a grandmother, a husband, a son, a sister, or a friend. Even though my mother won't be here in physical form, her spirit has recently been making itself known in many ways. Just yesterday, I felt I was channeling Mom as my daughter and I undertook the task of making her famous 7-layer bars. I recalled so many Christmases past where Mom would prance around the house in her red sweater and acrylic high heels, making sure everyone had something to drink and a 7-layer bar to nibble on. She was the quintessential glammed up matriarch, white zinfandel in one hand and a glowing cig in the other. No matter how many presents I receive in my lifetime, few will give me the joy I felt upon witnessing the contagious belly laugh of that little firecracker.
Yesterday, I received a telephone call from a dear friend of mine who is currently going through the same thing I did three years ago. His father is about ready to depart this world, and the transition is understandably difficult for the entire family. On one day, it seems like his dad is ready to leave; on another day, he is up and around, basking in the love of his spouse, children and grandchildren. My friend believes that he is showing one final burst of energy before he says his final goodbyes. Who knows, maybe he's waiting until after Christmas so his loved ones won't be reminded of his death on the 25th of every December. I wish I could tell him that it doesn't really matter what day he decides to die. Even if he waits a few extra days, his family will still feel the crush of his absence every year around the holidays. There will be an air of melancholy when everyone sits down to the feast. Someone will make a reference that will remind everyone of a long-running family joke. His favorite holiday movie will play on television. In so many ways he will be there still, even when he's not.
Because of this phone call I received, I decided to ask my mother for a special gift this year. I am going to ask her to help in a way that only she can do.
"Ma, please go to Jim's bedside and help him find his way to Spirit. He needs help in dropping his body so he can move on, and you are just the gal to escort him. (He's cute too!) As you know, he's probably a little afraid and worried that his family won't be able to handle his death. Reassure him, Ma, that everyone will be all right and that he is going to an amazing place filled with beauty, joy, and Divine love. Once he feels and sees you there, he'll understand that he's not really dying - just changing locales. It will help him and his family so much. Bring all of your peeps too! Thanks, Mom, for this huge gift. I love you so much!"
And I miss you too.