This season of the year is an obstacle course of emotional hurdles with emotional landmines and ambushes galore. We made it through November and now we're plowing through December. Putting up the Christmas tree and decorating for Christmas was preceded by a lot of thought and discussion about how much decorating we'd be comfortable with and how we'd feel about it. It's been emotional, to say the least.
Jeanette loved Christmas and loved making her own ornaments. Three ornaments, dated 2013, will forever represent her last Christmas with us before she went to heaven. For 2014, we bought a keepsake picture frame ornament along with a glittery red heart to symbolize that she's still with us in spirit. Yet placing her photograph on the tree released a new flow of tears. How can it be that all we have are photographs of her happy, smiling face, but she's not here?
How can this be? The same sense of disbelief we felt in the early months returned. Not just, how did this happen, but how are we going to get through this? And, after getting through this Christmas, what about all the Christmases to come? The weight of this reality pressed down hard. There's no changing or denying reality. Life is forever divided between BEFORE and AFTER, and there is no way life can ever be as it was BEFORE. It is an unchangeable reality that changes everything.
I gaze through the shadow of pain and look for something beyond it. Christmas will never be as it was BEFORE, but how can Christmas AFTER be made into something good? We created a wonderful new memory by spending Thanksgiving at the Grand Canyon. There were tears, naturally, but overall, it was a marvelous idea to be away from home, doing something completely different and unique. What a great relief to discover we can find joy in doing new things!
Thanksgiving was good, but Christmas is steeped in so many more traditions. Blending old traditions with new ones, I am determined to raise Christmas from the ashes of sadness. Moving forward is our only option. And so, we proceed, one foot in front of the other, one Christmas at a time.
Sara Faith Nelson
Sharing the journey, because, I find there are so many others making the trek through life without a loved one