Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Let There Be Light

Kailyn and Cleo

I've been up for hours, read the paper, caught up on a few blogs, and it's still dark as I look out my kitchen window.  It is the time of darkness.  No wonder the Christian world decided it would be a good time to celebrate Christmas!  It makes perfect sense. We need a little light in this world.

For the past seven years, I've dreaded December doubly, with the darkness of grief commingling with the dreariness of winter. This year was no exception.  It started on December first, attending a memorial service for a friend's husband, sobbing in the pew as the painful memories pierced my heart, not only for myself, but so many of my friends who have lost their children too soon and especially those whose anniversaries are also in December.

It continued, building to a crescendo as the days marched on, dreading the coming of the anniversary of my son's death on December 16.  For some reason, this year seemed especially poignant. I cried frequently, with no warnings.  I was also battling a raging anger inside that I couldn't name, but was erupting with intensity and frankly, scaring the daylights out of me.  My counselor gave me a simple two sentence meditation that I latched onto and was repeating to myself endlessly, "May I be happy again.  May this pain pass."

And then the horror of Sandy Hook Elementary shook our world, rattled our sensibilities, and my own dance with grief was sidelined.  My broken heart wept with those newly broken hearted parents. As the news traveled across the school, as I met the red eyes of fellow teachers in the hallways, silently embracing, I was reminded of September 11, 2001.  When I could grasp the words from my spinning brain, I'd repeat my mantra from earlier in the week, no longer singular, but plural.  We got through the day, sending our unknowing students off for the weekend, perhaps giving more hugs than usual as they left our classrooms.

Time does not stop.  As I've written (and been interrupted by my dog and my husband) the day has lightened and the birds are feasting at the various feeders outside my window.  The fire is warming, the still fresh evergreen aroma of the Christmas tree fills my nostrils.  I look around at the chaos Christmas, and of both daughters home for the holidays, including my new baby grandkitty, Cleo!

Yesterday I celebrated 62 years of living. I was literally showered with love. My students gifts, cards and notes reassured me that I am right where I am supposed to be.  I was doubly blessed, as my birthday coincided with the last day of school before winter break. (Happy Birthday to me!) From the specially chosen and carefully wrapped green apple, to the hand knit (by one of my spitfire little guys!) purple scarf, to the boxes of candy, ornaments, mugs, nick knacks, stuffed bears and perfume (yes, perfume!) my aching heart healed a little more.

This day also brought the happy news that my oldest daughter, Jessica, was officially hired as a certificated substitute for the district I work for. (I will have a live-in sub; how cool is that?)  My youngest daughter, Kailyn was coming home, with baby Cleo, and my sister was hosting a family dinner in honor of my birthday. The day was long, but filled with laughter. Being encircled by so much love truly lifted my heart and soul.

Having lived through my own raw Christmas grief, I have firsthand experience with darkness during the season of light. I know that it will come back to haunt me, year after year, because it is right that I  miss my son; his presence in my life. But, I also know that though the tunnel of darkness can be long, and seemingly without end, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Let there be light for you, and for those you love.  


  1. To change your meditation slightly may I send you this blessing "may you be happy again, may this pain pass." You are brave to go about your day, and to give and receive love, especially on your birthday, and how good your daughters are gathering round.

  2. I am so happy to see a post from you Sandi! A belated Happy Birthday to you. I lost my husband in December 6 years ago and it still affects me as the Christmas season approaches. My heart is with you, for the hurt you feel after the loss of your son.
    I am so glad your daughters are with you.

    Merry Christmas to you all!

  3. I wish you joy as your daughters come to visit.
    blessings, Joanne

  4. Happy Birthday! Thank you for sharing your musings and your pathway from darkness to this place of light. May you stay here for a while longer.


  5. Happy Birthay! How cool that your daughter can substitute for you. I hope you find a perfect brightness in hope to pull you through the darkness you are experiencing.


  6. I am sending you lots of cyber hugs and tears of understanding. And not to forget the birthday wishes. It's been a hard week for everyone, but for you especially difficult. I am glad to have that mantra too. It's a good one for me right now. Thank you, Sandi.

  7. I do hope you can find that peace and love and light this Christmas season. I see the same pain in my Sister's eyes each year. Her son passed 9yrs ago this doesn't seem possible that so much time has passed and he wasn't part of it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and tender feelings. My Son and his family are in Portland area..Beaverton..for their first Christmas in this new home and new state..near you I think!

  8. Happy Belated Birthday! "I am right where I am supposed to be" is my mantra when grief comes knocking on my door. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  9. Happy Birthday! And may there be much light in your life and heart this holiday season to fade the shadows. :)

  10. Friday is the solstice. Then slowly the light returns. Wishing you peace and comfort with the coming light.

  11. Hello Sandi, As you allow the grief of loss to flow through you, I'm so glad you're surrounded by the caring and love of family, friends, and students. I hope the smiles and hugs you receive lift your spirits. Rest and rejuvenate over your holiday - Merry Christmas from (snowy) CO!

  12. Sandi, I am so thankful that you are feeling a bit better because you have the holidays to look forward too, and you have your girls there with you. As a bonus, you have Christmas Break!

    You are in my heart. You know that. Somehow, I missed your birthday. I'm so happy to know that it was a day filled with many good things. Merry Christmas. Truly, we will celebrate the One who is the light of the world. God Bless.

  13. Merry Christmas, Sandi! Aloha from Hawaii.

  14. I'm struck by how similar our posts about Sandy Hook are, which is no surprise really. I can hardly wait until we're able to be together in real time - I'm missing you a ton right this minute. Love to you.

  15. P.S. Cleo is so cute!!!!! When are you getting your own. ;-)


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