Everything changed when she died that summer, 2005. Holidays weren’t the same, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is not a new story — people who have lost loved ones experience a variety of emotions at certain times of the year.
She loved Christmas. WE loved Christmas. She decorated over the years, but particularly with a Victorian flair after her retirement.
Christmas, unknown year (1999 or early 2000s), Mom’s house, Winchester, Indiana Copyright Notice: You do not have permission to download or copy this photo without obtaining it from me. Thank you.
Her decorations are mine now, yet they remain in boxes from when they were packed up over 13 years ago.
Mom’s Christmas Tree and Porcelain Dolls, unknown year, in Winchester. Copyright Notice: You do not have permission to download or copy this photo without obtaining it from me. Thank you.
Her lamps are my lamps now. Her dolls are my dolls. Her books are my books. Her rocking chair is mine now.
My Ma, in her house, at Christmastime. Date unknown. Copyright Notice: You do not have permission to download or copy this photo without obtaining it from me. Thank you.
Her pictures are mine now. Her blue and white is mine. The manger scene is packed away in an unknown box. I think those pillows are in decorative covers on my bed.
And, you know what? My memories of her are the best of what is left.
Something’s different this year, and I’m not sure why. This year, I’m finding a little bit of gratitude. Acceptance that she’s gone. The possibility that perhaps next year, I’ll dig out her decorations. Maybe I’ll put up a tree.
I lost a hamster yesterday. A tiny little dwarf who filled my heart with so much joy. It was and is heartbreaking, but, even so, it’s okay. When you’ve held your mother’s cold hand while her spirit left her body, when you’ve felt it leave her body, nothing compares. Death isn’t scary anymore. It’s sad. It sucks. But it’s not scary, and it’s not unknown.
My mommy was, in my eyes, the best person on Earth. We all have flaws, issues, problems, as did she. But she was strong, she was smart, she was wise, she was loving and empathetic, and she passed these traits onto me, not because I deserved them, but because she loved me unconditionally.
So today, I send gratitude and love and acceptance to all who wish it. Giving is the only way to receive. Giving is how I’ve managed, even through incredible depressions, to stay alive at the worst times. She gave me that determination, and somehow, some way, it stuck. I am alive today because of her, and whether it’s to a family member, a friend, or a tiny little hamster, I am able to give of myself even when there is a danger of heartache.
There is always a danger of heartache, but that’s no reason not to try.
Merry Christmas, everyone.