“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln
Right after Thanksgiving, we went to cut down a Christmas tree. My husband lit up the house beautifully at my request to have all the lights, and we began to celebrate the season despite the underpinning of grief, and the news that my uncle was hitting new lows in his cancer battle.
And I found myself unable to write or really, make clear decisions about almost anything.
It was a little like the final guitar wire snapped, 2 months after the bomb that was the loss of my brother-in-law detonated in our family, as we tried to navigate our grief and a way to live with it. I found myself tired constantly, forgetful, and disorganized. The kids were just…off. No one could concentrate. I would buy groceries and forget to use them, couldn’t for the life of me remember what to make for dinner, and wander into rooms and just stare. The Omicron variant blew up some of our plans. “Why do we even make plans?” I wondered not infrequently.
Grief, they say, is disorienting, but I found it to be more along the lines of dislocating. Something is not where it belongs, and the ripples of that strange ‘gap in the system’ mean that nothing quite makes sense, which in turn made my brain feel like it was wearing a sweater most of the time.
But we are blessed, and the greatest way we are is in that our people just keep showing up. My best friend, tired of hearing me cry from 1500 miles away, hopped a plane and joined us for a weekend in the mountains, surprising my children and creating a sense of normalcy and fun, then extended her stay a few days when my daughter wasn’t ready for her to go. My next door neighbor showed up with a bag of dog food for Teddy (also, he keeps eating their dog’s food, so this was partially an investment in brokering peace on earth and goodwill between dogs) and checked in frequently. My husband took over much of the cooking and mostly adapted to a weary, forgetful wife, perhaps preparing for what it might be like 30 years from now.
But my children, most of all, grounded me. Because my son still fiercely and fully believes in all the magic of Christmas. Elves on shelves, magical appearing candy and surprises in Advent Calendars, and Santa in all his magic. He made lists and planned surprises for all. No matter what, all the enchantments that are the holiday season needed to appear, and so they did.
Every morning, finding Elphidelphia, our Elf on the Shelf, and checking the advent calendar for treats or treasures, but most of all, as my husband strung the house with lights, he decided to make me a lighted North Pole for the yard with my husband as a gift. My daughter made us all homemade Ramen for dinner.
Our Christmas was filled with love, and then a multi-day playdate/sleepover with the kids down the street capped it all off. I took some days off and started to catch up on sleep. I cooked all day on Christmas, the kids loved their gifts, and suddenly joy crept back in, like vines that flower through cracks in the pavement.
Tempered of course, with sadness and worry about those whose loss is greater than ours, but joy and hope nonetheless. I wish the same to you and yours.