And love abounds…

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.

Love is all you need

Yeah, “about” that…

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?

Lifting January

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.

(at Dad's house)

Things I love—yes, love—about January:

  • Increasing daylight
  • Fluffy blankets
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Snuggly cats
  • More time at home

…along with countless others, I am sure. My list will continue to grow as the happy moments arrive, and hopefully the list will give me something to embrace as the stormy parts of January grow and devour.

Silent Night

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.
-Jeanette Winterson

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.

(at Dad's house)