Grief. It's an odd thing. And we all seem to handle it in different ways, though most people will lovingly pat your shoulder and tell you that you eventually move on from it and get past at least the deepest part of the grief anyway. Life is for the living they say.
13 years ago today my Mama died. It was devastating to me for years, and most of that came from my anger at how unfair it all was. My Mama tolerated much in her lifetime, but she did what many women of her generation did and lived with the unfairness for the sake of her children. For her to leave in death, to leave me, to leave us, and at age 61, only 8 years older than I am now, was just so wrong. I guess I spent a lot of years being angry about that - angry with who or what, I don't know. My dad. God. Even her for not giving up cigarettes long before. She missed so much.
She didn't see my son, her first grandson, graduate. She didn't get to go to his wedding. Or meet her third grandchild (my brother's son) or her first great grandchild, my son's son. Or her great grand-daughter. Being a part of their lives would have brought such joy to her. Cancer is just so unfair like that.
We found out Mama had lung cancer only weeks before she died, though she had suffered in silence pretty much for years. I'm sure she knew for as long, but pushed it aside in denial or fear until it was too late. Mama was the kind of person who went all out at Christmas, decorating, shopping, cooking. She absolutely loved Christmas - it was her favorite time of year. When she died on the 19th, and we buried her the day before Christmas Eve, it changed the entire fabric of Christmas for me. That seems so stupid and self-centered, but Christmas lost much of its joy for many years for me after Mama died.
That first year I journaled through a lot of the emotions as if I were talking to her - I think that it helped some to do that. Click on the picture to enlarge if you'd like to read it - I still have that Kitchen Aid mixer and for years I cried every time I used it. I mostly just smile now.
I try to remember the last part on that page, but it's hard. Grief... it's hard. And it is especially hard around Christmas. Thankfully the Christmas season is getting better now that there are little grandbabies in the picture these last couple of years, but for some reason, I still cannot seem to get pass the sadness until this 19th of December passes.
On that day, I grieve. I finally cry. No, that's not true. I sob. And then, I suddenly feel like it's okay to celebrate again. I don't want it to be this way and in fact, I only really came to the realization that I do this. We all grieve differently.
I've noticed here and there lately on Twitter and on Facebook, comments with traces of cynicism and that underlying snippy sarcasm from others. Maybe I'm just hypersensitive to that sort of thing, but I've wondered. Does this negativism come from their own brushes with grief from losses in their own lives that tend to surface this time of year with the holidays? Maybe so. Loss and rejection come in many forms - and it isn't just restricted to death either. This holiday is one to dredge it all up. I guess, we should all try to be kind to the unkind, because they may be hurt and suffering in their own grief.
So if you know someone who has lost somebody, call them. Take them to lunch. Go shopping with them. Bring them some Christmas cookies. Better yet, make cookies with them. Share your love with them. They need it.
Today I begin to celebrate!
I celebrate my Mama and all the love she shared with us, her pride in the way her children turned out despite the obstacles in our lives. I celebrate the way that my Mama would in the spirit of the love that is Christmas.
The night before Mama died, she threw back the covers on her bed and said she was going to "go fly with the angels." That next night as we all held vigil at her bedside, we had somehow forgotten to place her crucifix in her hands. The very instant I entwined it into her hands, my aunt told us all to let her go and take our hands away from Mama. To let her go. Just as we all removed our touch, she inhaled, exhaled, and in that very last breath, was gone.
At her funeral we played Celine Dion "Because You Loved Me." No words could have said it better. On her headstone we had engraved "Angels Fly Thee Home." It seemed fitting, and while I'm not much of a poet, I wrote this poem with these last final days in mind.
Arriving like a whisper,
in a cold rush of air
the subtle flutter
of wings, like silk.
this celestial being,
ivory skin aglow,
she casts the light of truth.
Ever present, the divine protector,
a comfort in time of need.
Sheltered in the safety of her wings,
I am, safe from harm.
Satisfied, the task complete
she spreads her wings
Heavenly peace covers her face
and in one slow exhale,
she flies home.
Because You Loved Me
For all those times you stood by me
For all the truth that you made me see
For all the joy you brought to my life
For all the wrong that you made right
For every dream you made come true
For all the love I found in you
I'll be forever thankful
You're the one who held me up
Never let me fall
You're the one who saw me through - through it all
You were my strength when I was weak
You were my voice when I couldn't speak
You were my eyes when I couldn't see
You saw the best there was in me
Lifted me up when I couldn't reach
You gave me faith 'cuz you believed
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
You gave me wings and made me fly
You touched my hand I could touch the sky
I lost my faith, you gave it back to me
You said no star was out of reach
You stood by me and I stood tall
I had your love I had it all
I'm grateful for each day you gave me
Maybe I don't know that much
But I know this much is true
I was blessed because I was loved by you
You were always there for me
The tender wind that carried me
A light in the dark shining your love into my life
You've been my inspiration
Through the lies you were the truth
My world is a better place because of you
I'm everything I am
Because you loved me
Merry Christmas Mama.