Monday, December 31, 2012
We are in Chicago this New Year's Eve. I wonder if this will become a tradition, traveling over the holiday. Tomorrow marks the start of a new year, yes...but also two years of marriage to Nick and seven since our first date. Where does the time go?
2012 has been a melancholy year for me. I have watched others cope with recent losses of their loved ones, and it rubs the wound raw. That is not to say that 2012 has been an unhappy year! Countless days have been a complete delight, and I am constantly awed by how sincerely wonderful life is.
I cherish all the tender people in my life. It is magnificent to feel so surrounded by kindness and love every day. I was lonely for so long after Mom died, and I know now that it was my own doing. I've found the courage to let people in again.
What will 2013 bring? Nobody knows...but that's part of the adventure. It's pretty difficult to fear the unknown when you know that you won't be facing it alone.
I wish a very happy new year to each and every one of you...may you know joy.
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Sophie was eager to see what Santa Claus left in her stocking this year!
He usually hooks her up with
Saturday, December 29, 2012
I received an email awhile ago from a new visitor asking questions about the "about" text. I noticed then how disjointed the wording was. I last rewrote the full text in 2005, merely piecing in updates as needed. I read there what I think of as different "voices" of me—a lot has changed since 2005, you know? I've changed a lot. It was well overdue for a rewrite, but I hate writing profile stuff, so I've been putting it off.
Anyway, it's done now for the next seven years. Someone set up a reminder for me, will you?
Friday, December 28, 2012
As I head into January and the anniversary of my mother's death, I need to remind myself that the month has a lot more to offer than mourning.
There is something about the turn of the year that feels like a clean slate—isn't that silly? For what separates December 31st from January 1st but a second? It's the clear morning after a fresh snow, so untouched and beautiful…a sea of glitter under the sun. I'll hesitate before going out because I do not want to mar something so unblemished, but I can't squelch the urge to don my snowshoes to make my mark and have some fun. That, in a nutshell, is life.
Things I love—yes, love—about January:
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
The lights dimmed and silence descended upon the congregation. One by one, we lit small white candles, creating a glowing blanket of light to warm away the chill. The music started playing, and I sat mouthing the words to Silent Night like I do every year at the Christmas Eve service because I do not trust the strength of my voice. The cap on my emotions is loosened this time of year. What is it about Christmas?
Next month will mark seven years since I last held my mother's hand, but this Christmas without her feels just as raw as the first. I have thought of her often throughout this year. She has been my inspiration on a lot of those days when I'm sick and my body hurts.
It would be so easy to give into it…to surrender to the feelings of weakness and depression. Then she's there in the corner of my memory, soldiering through something much worse, and I take on the day with a smile pasted to my face. She's always there when I think of her, and that should give me peace…but what I would like more than anything in the world is her hug.
To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever...The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes...This hole that you have is the shape of the one you lost, no one else can fit it.In the last couple of years I experienced a lightness of heart over the holidays, and I thought it was a sign of moving on. I know now that I've just been trying not to think about it, essentially blocking out anything that taps into my tears. My grasp on nonchalance was shaky by the second bar of the song, and I hoped that I wouldn't drop my candle.
When I looked over at Joan (my mother-in-law), who was sitting next to me, I saw the same pain: her husband passed away unexpectedly just last January. Seeing the tears in her eyes broke my control, and we cried together while everyone around us sang. I had to pull away or I knew I wouldn't be able to stop. I'm sorry for that. After Mom died, my life did not return to sanity until I learned how to manage my emotions. I couldn't afford to lose the control that I traveled so far to find.
I picked up where I left off once I was home for the night. I needed my cry, and I needed privacy. I believe there is strength in showing your vulnerability…I'm just not strong enough with this hurt. So, in the silent night, I cried alone for every time that I wanted to but didn't.
I wish I had a happy twist waiting in the wings, but I don't. I cried myself to sleep on the couch and woke with gritty eyes. I washed my face, pulled on clothes, and steeled myself to go round two for Christmas with Dad.
I don't consider Christmas a bitter or even a sad time of year…not at all. I love Christmas.
But it overwhelms me.
Sunday, December 23, 2012
I make totally squeaky sounds when I look at this picture…I think they're both adorable!
Sophie still hasn't grasped the lessons on proper body language in mixed company, but at least she's covering her naughty bits.
So the new header is a little fanciful and, as Nick told me, out of season, but I needed something to perk me up.
Hang on to your hopes, my friend.
That's an easy thing to say,
But if your hopes should pass away
Simply pretend that you can build them again.
The grass is high,
The fields are ripe,
It's the springtime of my life.
-Simon and Garfunkel (A Hazy Shade of Winter)
Friday, December 21, 2012
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom—I actually finished reading this book a few months ago. I usually read Albom in one sitting, but this book wasn't easy for me to read. It sat staring at me from the coffee table for weeks before I finally worked up the courage to open the cover.
You see, I know what his books do to me. I find them cathartic—and in the end it's great because I feel cleansed by my tears and so much more at peace with sad things—but the journey itself often feels like medieval torture. The concept of time is fascinating, wonderful, and terrible all in one. On this subject, I think I have a tendency to feel too much. My emotions run the gamut from awe to anguish.
So, after several stops and starts, I reached the point in the story that compelled me to finish.
This is the story of Father Time. As a man, he was first to quantify the moments that make a life…and when his wife was near death, he wanted time to stop. For both the measuring and the wanting, he was locked away in a cave, ageless, and made to hear "...every plea from every soul who desired more of the thing he had first identified, the thing that moved man further from the simple light of existence and deeper into the darkness of his own obsessions. Time."
We think of time as a currency to spend when really every second is invaluable.
The man is given, after several centuries, a task to return to Earth. He is to find and help two souls: one who wants too much time and one who wants too little. He is to share what he has learned over the last 6,000 years. He is told that by the end of his journey he will understand why God limits man's days.
The two souls are an outcast teenage girl and a terminally ill old man. She wants to die; he wants to cheat death.
To the girl, he teaches that time cannot be given back. "The very next moment may be an answer to your prayer." To the man, he teaches that time cannot be taken where it is not given. "With endless time, nothing is special." The man who became Father Time had already lived for an eternity. Only after the lessons were complete did he comprehend for himself why God limits man's days: to make each one precious.
I spent too long wishing away my mother's Cancer. I spent too long wishing we could reverse time so she wouldn't be sick anymore. I spent too long wishing time would slow so that I could have more time with her. After she died, I spent too long wishing time would just stop because moving on hurt…really hurt.
How arrogant of me to think that I should have such power.
This story was strongly reminiscent of that period in my life. The pain, the loneliness, the lessons…and in the end, the understanding. Each day really is precious.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
We were watching TV in bed last night, and I was reading movie descriptions from the upcoming Lifetime lineup. I came across a movie about some charity calendar with scantily-clad men. Nick sputtered next to me, reading the same description, "Half-naked men? Why don't they have a movie about half-naked women instead!?"
I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "Oh, Nick. How many men even watch Lifetime?"
His face formed a perfect pout before flipping over to bury his head in a pillow and wailing, "ONE!"
Sunday, December 16, 2012
I get out of bed in the morning and head downstairs to feed Sophie. The Christmas tree serves as the only illumination in the room, and she sits before the traditional holiday adornment to stare at the twinkling lights. She does nothing but stare and blink slowly…as if mesmerized by the sight. Eventually she crawls beneath the boughs to sleep under the warm glow of light.
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