It’s here, the happiest time of year and although I don’t feel like I used to, it really is very special. There are memories of 65 Christmas Seasons for me and to be completely honest, most of them were amazing. Grieving in the holiday season is a challenge, but it also makes you realize the part of life that is really important.
It has been my experience that the actual holiday is no different than any other day, but the days leading up to it are filled with anticipation and mixed emotions. I find myself feeling increasingly sad as I navigate this holiday without Rick. I have a beautiful family and lots of support, but that does not camouflage what is missing. My daughter asked me this week “Why do we lose everyone we love?” That is a question I couldn’t answer because I don’t think there is an answer. What I can answer is this.
Life is not and will never be…perfect. There are ups and downs, sometimes side to side turns much like you feel on a roller coaster. The ups can be extreme like graduation, marriage, having children or they can be simple like getting a raise or even buying new furniture or simply having a good day. There are times that you want to sit in the first car, throw your hands in the air and scream with delight and there are times you approach that upcoming drop with great anticipation, white knuckling and hanging on. Then there are the times you can’t see around the bend, there is no preparation and the surprise drop takes all the wind out of you. These are the same feelings you experience in loss. What I have discovered is that whether you are prepared or not…it still takes the wind out of your sails and it still hurts.
How can you tackle this thing we call life and not get hurt? I don’t think you can. That’s just my opinion, but you have to be willing to take the ride, never knowing what’s around the next bend. I believe love is the greatest gift we can give or receive. I believe even when it isn’t perfect, it is worth the risk. What would life be without having someone to love and to be loved. I think it would be like the roller coaster with no riders. There would be no screams of joy nor screams of fear, no hands in the air, just emptiness. An empty theme park is very different than one filled with people. The empty one is sad, no lights, no sounds, no smells and no happiness, just an empty shell. Once the gates open, there are sounds of laughter and pure joy, the aromas of fair food, the eye catching exhibits and rides. Everything there is intended to bring joy, but once in awhile even a theme park has a tragedy and it leaves a mark. After that, it takes time for the owners and the participants to feel comfortable again and to feel safe. In the meantime, everyone behind the scenes works hard to assure that safe feeling returns, hoping it will never happen again., but there are no guarantees.
This Christmas is like that closed theme park, it’s like DisneyWorld without any people. I didn’t decorate or put up a tree. I didn’t bake or plan dinner. I didn’t listen to Christmas music. I didn’t enjoy the season. I want it to be over, not for anyone else, I just need to get to the other side. It’s all about survival this year, plain and simple.
What I did do this season is reflect on my 65 years of life. I was blessed with an amazing mother, who I thank God for everyday. I was blessed with a best friend and husband for 46 years. I had an intact family for 29 years with three incredible daughters. My 29 years with Lindsey was and continues to be a blessing. My career has blessed me in innumerable ways, from the people I have met along the way to allowing me to adjust my work life to raise my three daughters. I am blessed with good friends, many of whom have suffered my losses with me. I am blessed with two brothers, who love and support me in everything I do. I am blessed with a sister-in-law who has been more like a sister over the years. I am blessed with a half sister, who shows her undying support over the miles. I am blessed with becoming a part of Rick’s family and experiencing life at the river with family all around. Rick’s parents demonstrated what a happy marriage looked like. My continued blessings come from my grandchildren who check on me constantly to make sure I’m ok. I have been blessed with co-workers and friends who have taken their time on Christmas morning to let me know they care. I am blessed to have found a new church family that is starting to feel like home. It goes without saying that my greatest blessings call me “mom”, my daughters Amanda and Tiffany.
The maze isn’t decorated today, but that’s ok. I have it all boxed away to bring out when I’m ready. It’s quiet here and that’s ok, sometimes quiet can be good too. The theme park has to be quiet in order to prepare for the next new and exciting adventure. I am resting now, but I will be ready to take on that new adventure when the time is right. You can’t rush grief. It has to simmer like a succulent sauce. Everything has to blend in order for the taste to be right. Grief is like that because there are so many parts that must blend to create healing.
Thank you for reading, thank you for your comments, and no matter what you believe or what you celebrate, I wish you peace and hope for your future. In order to celebrate Rick this year and his life, we made his famous BBQ sauce and are currently distributing it to friends and family. What you leave behind is really what’s most important, memories and love are forever.
“May love be what you remember most” Darcie Sims
Our last Christmas together.