Friday, October 28, 2016


Yesterday two women I love and respect posted things that let the world know they were hurting.  Why is that so hard?
One admitted that she has been hiding.
I know of hiding and masks and knowing one thing and feeling another.  The German within me and the proud Irish say, "Mind over matter."  So I know many things and that knowing keeps me sane.  Keeps me functioning and largely, keeps me healthy.
But guess what...the matter is still there...and the matter is in pain.
For those of my friends and acquaintance that have lost child or spouse; I truly cannot imagine.  As a grief counselor I am not afraid to walk into the dark places with others and I know our human tendencies with grief and still I am blown away by the pain I am feeling.  It is tempting to invalidate it, because mine is a parent, a 'normal' loss, but I can't because it is so real. 
I had someone very firmly snap at me that grief is evidence that I had a meaningful relationship and I should be thankful. Period.
Dear God in Heaven, You are the Creator and sustainer of all things and sweet Jesus, there at Creation, You were there in the beginning and without You nothing was made that was made.  And the perfect plan to send You as a lamb to slaughter to pay for the iniquities of our sins beginning at Christmas. Oh Sweet Jesus, my favorite time of year.  Is all the decorating, cherishing and celebrating because of You or is it because I love pine, holly, white lights and snowmen? It is more than that, the tenderness of Christmas is that as a vulnerable baby You came down and your earthly parents were vulnerable and how it must have ripped open God's heart to let You leave Your heavenly throne and yet as a good Father, He was pleased, He burst inside with both pride and joy that You would and could defeat this separation.  You would save us. Oh sweet God almighty...what  a sacrifice.  Dear Jesus, thank you.  Let my grief not diminish one ounce of that, for my love and cherishing of it was started as a child by a mother that loved to make Christmas special, full of wonder, full of joy and togetherness, which is what Christmas is ultimately about.  You came down.  wonder joy togetherness.
At the risk of sounding so stupid and petty...this is what I realize is eating me up inside about this Christmas.  This is my first year that we should be going home to PA for Christmas, but I no longer have a home in PA for Christmas.  Mom is gone and our home sold.
I left my home for the family I now have 21 years ago, but every 2 years I breathed deep the feeling of going home to 4613 Tarryton Rd.  To see the porch, my mom on the porch, the carpet, the stairs, the fireplace and one by one to welcome in my siblings as they came home and we were reunited for Christmas.  The mistletoe in the door way.  The chimes, the magic mailbox, the kitchen and family room that never changed.  The golf balls on the wall, the map of Doylestown, the mirror on the bathroom door, the bedrooms upstairs lit by the neighbors Christmas lights. My prom and graduation dresses in the closets.  The sound of the heater clank clank clank so loud.  The scalding hot water and the  backwards faucet handles because my dad would not call a plumber.  Mom's hugs. Memory treasures everywhere.  When I'd go home, I was home and I soaked it in deeply and it fueled me for 2 more years.  And now it's gone.
One year, yes 18 years I'd been in KS and I started fantasizing about hugging my siblings, nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephew in the hallway in August. No lie.
It is not that I don't love it here in KS with my friends and family, but nothing is like my family to me. And no one here understands that, which just makes it worse.

So how do I balance such tender emotions. What do I do with them?  Do I try to recreate Mom's Christmas here in KS?  She has neighbors and friends into the home that did not have anything better to do Christmas eve and her children and grandchildren came.  We went to Mass, ate stew and decorated the tree to the sounds of Booker T and the MGs and then we settled in with all the snack food that friends and family brought. Sometimes, a live nativity would appear or an impromptu band performance. One year a giant Whoopie cushion appeared. So fun. A visit from Santa one year.  Always the gift exchange aka the Chinese Auctions (sorry) A walk in the snow looking at the neighbors lights, caroling.  Walking up to the field that mom would like to look out over.   For a while we'd be Santa and help her bring the grandkids gifts up and stuff the stockings.
I love the childhood she gave me: walks and songs and traditions.  As of yet, my family does not embrace them.  Maybe someday.
They like TV and games (I like games) and making fun of each other and shrimp.
No singing, no Christmas pickle or elves or silliness.
It's not the same.
What to do.