It's Christmas Eve, Bubby. I'm sitting in the multicolored prismatic twinkle of the Christmas tree in the early morning hours. It's peaceful and still. Here in the quietude that is all too rare these days, we can have a chat.
We've been putting one foot in front of the other. Dad and I are getting by. Doing what we can. Finding scraps of joy, fragments of smiles, seconds of insight and perspective along the way. We can allow good friends and good music to lift us for a spell, like at the Dillwyn VFD Christmas Dance. That was such a heartwarming night. I was wholly not in the mood to do anything for Christmas, but being there with so many friends -- and your friends, who have become my friends over the past two years; my heart twists, expands, breaks and shines all at once when we look into the other's eyes and see the Thor-sized hole that shines back at us. We are drawn to each other like magnets, each one with a piece of a broken heart and a story to tell. We conjure you in those moments, speaking your name in stereo and paging you to drop by and embrace us. I can feel you there, in those moments when we bring you to life with our words and stories, memories and love.
Lately, I spend a lot of time at work. The job has escalated to a new frenetic pace which is a good thing - the company is doing well. What I didn't realize is how I depended on work to help keep the pain of this whole holiday season at bay. That is until we closed shop on Friday and I was faced with it all at once. Without the pressure of the work deadlines and accountability to the team, I was suddenly unmoored. My mind was unoccupied enough that the looming and ever-present agony of grief rushed into that void. Dread. Why do I have to do this? Every holiday season starting after Halloween ramps up in excitement and expectation, higher and higher until we get to Christmas Eve, Christmas, Day After and then….WHAM! We slam headlong into the brick wall of the dreaded day. The worst day of my life.
What. The. Fuck?
So this year we needed to shake it up a little. Neither Dad nor I could hang with our usual routine and all the energy it takes to make it happen. We put up a small tree, it's just four feet tall. But it's sweet and doesn't feel forced. There is an authenticity expressed in its diminutive branches. We are doing Christmas, but maybe just a little less. We've made it a little easier. We'll spend more time at Nana's enjoying the wonder and innocent, wide-eyed Christmas excitement of little Kai. It's good to have the little ones around to keep our hearts lighter. I want to read him stories and play with toys like I did with you and your brothers. Just the thought warms my heart…which usually means tears are merely a blink away.
I got to spend some time with Starr, yesterday. Which made my day. She and Diane gave me a glorious snow globe that lights up and twinkles around a beautiful cardinal. When I look at it, I imagine your presence is like that…sparkling and shining all around us. That the love we have for you sparkles in our eyes and shines forth. We had dinner and just spent the day together. You would have liked the stuffed shells. You probably would have been impatient with our sappy rom-com Christmas movies and would have wandered out to the barn with dad.
There are many memories to hold onto and cherish, the ones that keep your voice alive and let me see your face in the movie in my mind. Sometimes I rewrite the script, you know, to change the story. I take the raw material of memories and weave them into a new tale. What would you be doing right now? Would you and Starr be married? Would there be a baby? Would you be a supervisor at work? Would you build a house on our land? Would you have bagged that buck you were always chasing? Would you get a transfer to live near the beach? What would you be doing if a longer life had been granted to you? I like to dream up alternative storylines. They always include you outliving me in a long life full of joy and experiences and love and challenges and victories. I know the story I'm living too well…I don't need to think about it so much as your death is the daily backdrop to my every breath.
Christmas symbolizes many things for many people. For me, I've always felt it to be a recognition of the light returning to warm the earth, which is symbolic for us to recognize the Light of the God which illumines our hearts. This is further symbolized by remembering the birth of Jesus who is the light of the world for so many. I am trying to focus on the Light this season. Since I know that is where you are; you are a light being, free of these mortal coils, but still able to be here in the form of light energy. I see you in a sunrise and in a ray of light upon the water. I feel you in the warming sun that streams through my windshield when I drive. My heart recognizes your playful nature when rainbows and sundogs appear in the strangest places.
We watched my favorite Christmas movie of all time - twice now; The Muppets Christmas Carol. Every time I hear the song "Bless Us All," I cry. It's one of the best Christmas songs ever written. I hum it a lot lately.
Life is full of sweet surprises
Every day's a gift
The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my spirit
Fills me up with laughter
Fills me up with song
I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong
Bless us all, who gather here
The loving family I hold dear
No place on earth, compares with home
And every path will bring me back from where I roam
Bless us all, that as we live
We always comfort and forgive
We have so much, that we can share
With those in need we see around us everywhere
Let us always love each other
Lead us to the light
Let us hear the voice of reason, singing in the night
Let us run from anger and catch us when we fall
Teach us in our dreams and please, yes please
Bless us one and all
Bless us all with playful years,
With noisy games and joyful tears.
We reach for You and we stand tall,
And in our prayers and dreams
We ask You bless us all
We reach for You and we stand tall,
And in our prayers and dreams we ask You,
Bless us all
I miss you more than words can ever say, sweet boy. It's Christmas time, and the absence of your physical self is more keenly felt. My heart is shattered but gloriously alight with love. The rainbow that connects my heart to yours is vibrant and alive…so you'll hear me loud and clear when I say, Merry Christmas, Bubby! I am hugging you tight in my heart and imagine holding you in my arms.
I know you know, but I'll say it anyway;
I love you,