It’s 10 am here in Winnipeg. I had my third cup of coffee, my mom finished watching Midnight Mass from the Vatican about an hour ago on EWTN. My parent’s place is quiet, my mom wonders if I want the TV on, but I say ‘no thanks’. I like the quiet, and I like being around my parents.
Quite a few of my friends will spend the holidays without a family member. Some will spend their first one without a father, mother, or sometimes a sibling. While we talk about the nuttiness of family gatherings, and their accompanying dramas, this year things feel a little tempered for me. I have both my parents still, my brother and his family comes later. I peek into Facebook to see my aunt and cousins celebrate happily from wherever they are around town. It’s a small consideration and now it feels more precious.
Quite a few of my friends lost loved ones this year. Another few still deal with a recent passing. It reminds me of something a former co-worker I had once told me. She said when her mom passed away from breast cancer, people came by with food, cards, and sympathy. She appreciated it yet what she really needed was for someone to come by a year after her mom passed, the time a loss feels so intense knowing an empty place remains at Christmas and everyday afterwards.
I don’t mean to be depressing, and please don’t interpret this post as a depressing post. I had this perfectly worded in my head, but sometimes it doesn’t seem to come out right. I want to approximate what I mean to borrow something I learned from writer Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) in an Atlantic article. (Yet another thing to add to the list of things soon to be published.) To add a story of my own, I remember telling my late Uncle Max I wanted to be a writer. I kept saying it in the hospital room as he battled cancer. In a strange way I started to make that come true. At my parent’s place I leaf through photo albums to pictures of my grandparents, my uncle Max, and his brother Roger who also passed away of cancer three years later. I don’t want to forget. Presents can come and go, but the people in our lives remain priceless.
To the readers of this blog, Merry Christmas and thanks for coming by. For those dealing with a loved one’s absence, take your time as grief does not have a timeline. I am leaving you with Winter Song by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. It sounds like a sad song, but you can also hear the hope go along with the longing.