|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.