Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It's the morning of Christmas Eve.  I'm at home in my jammies, eating oatmeal with dried apricots.  There are presents waiting to be opened, there's food in the refrigerator to see us through the next few days, and tonight I'll be celebrating my grandmother's birthday with my family.

However, this Christmas is bittersweet.  There have been deaths in the past few weeks.  Ken's grandpa passed away in mid-November.  

The next week, I heard, through my mother, that one of my grandfather's few remaining friends had died.  

My step-mother, whom I love dearly, lost her mother just a couple of weeks ago.  I only met Ivy a few times, however it broke my heart to see my family grieving her loss.  My sister lost her grandmother.  My step-mom and her brother had to say goodbye to their mother.  My father also grieved.  I attended the beautiful and moving memorial ceremony, and there was not a dry eye in the place.

Last night, my mother called me.  Only that morning, a dear friend of hers had passed away from cancer.  This friend, Cara, had not been diagnosed yet one year ago, when my mother's world was shattered by the news that my step-father was having an affair and would shortly leave her.  I only learned last night how Cara insisted upon calling my mother every day to check up on her and support her.  Cara left for a vacation to Florida later that same winter, and continued to call my mother every day, long-distance.  They hadn't even been close friends until that time.  Cara, generous woman that she was, saw that my mother was in need, and so she stepped up and gave her love.

Later, after Cara's cancer diagnosis, my mother returned the favour, calling daily to support her friend.  Although they were friends for a relatively short time, two or three years, they each had a huge impact on each other.  I am so grateful for the support that Cara offered to my mother when she needed it.  I'm sorry that I never had a chance to thank her in person.  Last night I offered up my gratitude to the ether, with a prayer that the message would be delivered to her spirit.

My mother will attend Cara's funeral today, and then rush home to complete the preparations for my grandmother's birthday.  I will be there to help her.  I suggested to my mom that she might want to cancel the party.  She insisted that life must go on, and she'd rather have the family there with her than sit alone.  She probably won't even have told them that anything is wrong.  We'll see how that goes.

I really hope it's not a repeat of how my family learned about my parents' separation.  I found that pretty hard to take.  I have to admit I'm not heading into this evening with 100% enthusiasm.  But no matter what happens I will be 100% there for my mom.

So this Christmas is most certainly bittersweet.  Being surrounded by deaths makes me all the more conscious of how lucky I am to have so many beloved friends and family still with me.  I intend to appreciate and love all of them to the maximum of my ability.  There's nothing like loss to make one appreciate what one has.  Truly.


Nilsa said...

Your last line sums it all up. Without loss, it's sometimes hard to know or appreciate what we have. Sounds like you have a little more reason to show appreciation for all you have this holiday season.

Anonymous said...

You'll be fine. Everything will be alright.

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Sorry for the losses around the Holiday. I do hope you all manage to have a very Merry Christmas and celebrate the lives of those who cannot be there this year.

Keera Ann Fox said...

It's been a rough year, hasn't it. I wish you a peaceful Christmas time with your family.

Dianne said...

we spent Christmas Eve at my brother's house. he has a huge beautiful home with a kitchen right out of a magazine

on the island in the kitchen there was tons of food and bottles of expensive wine and just so much ...

in the midst of all the hoopla my niece looked around and said "there's so many people who don't have any of this - I'm so lucky" and then she went around and kissed and hugged everyone :)

I'm so glad I was there to see her have that moment

I wish all good things for you
You've been good for me and my soul this past year - thanks

jameil1922 said...

i'm glad you'll be together. your mom's right. it's easier to bear the pain when you don't have to do it alone. merry christmas.

Anonymous said...

My grandfather passed away on Christmas Day 13 years ago. I do today what I do everyday. I remember all the good my nonno brought into this world. The happiness is stronger than the sadness.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Karen said...

I am so sorry for all your losses. Last night at our Christmas Eve gathering, I was surprised to overhear my 22 year old cousins remembering and reminiscing about family members that we had lost over the past few years.

I think the holidays make losses more real, but they are a great time remember the good times too.

NicoleB said...

I hope you had a pleasant evening despite of all what's going on!

Sparkling Red said...

Nilsa: Definitely. I'm finding that Christmas time is an intensifier of all the emotions, and there are plenty of good ones too. :-)

Unsigned: Thanks. That is sweet of you to say. :-)

Ron: I'd say that on the balance it's been quite merry. It's all about love, in the end. Loving everyone who is present and those who can't be present any longer. Either way, it's still about love.

Keera: Thanks. Actually the evening at my mom's turned out really well, with no drama or strain. She's definitely come through this tough year with more resilience and a will to be positive. It's good to see.

Dianne: That is such a lovely moment. That's the real spirit of the holidays, no matter which holiday you celebrate. Thanks for sharing that here. :-)

Jameil: Thanks! Yeah, my mom's doing alright. I think she's learned a lot this year, about how to rely on her inner resources to be happy instead of waiting for it to come from outside. I'm proud of her.

Whatigotsofar: That is sweet. It's good to hear that your loss has been transformed into a reminder of all that was good about your nonno's life. That gives me hope that all of my loved ones who are grieving now will move to that transformation, in the fullness of time.

Karen: Thank you. You are absolutely right. We do need to remember our loved ones who we can't be with anymore, at least not in body. The impact of their lives on ours goes on, although sometimes we have to stop and listen to hear the echoes.

Nicole: Thanks! We did have a very pleasant evening. There was loads of wonderful food, and everyone relaxed and enjoyed themselves. It was lovely. :-)

Claire said...

Thinking of you, hon.