There’s nothing harder than the feelings from loss during the Holidays.
That void, the what if, the how come, the why us? Never really goes away.
Speaking candidly with a friend once on this very topic, she shared whoever said it gets easier lied. I’d have to concur with her wisdom.
For me the feelings from the void are usually conjured up at varying times throughout the hustle and bustle of the season. Hearing a Christmas song which was my grandmother’s favorite. Opening my address book to send Christmas cards and coming across my GiGi’s address. Or simply sharing and feeling the pain of dear friends whose parents are no longer here to share their love with their children and grandchildren – it’s tough.
By definition the word “void” is: a completely empty space. Probably as simple and as true as it can be defined. Yet somehow we go forward.
I’ve shared before in this space the good fortune I feel for a mother who raised me to always see the glass half full, “it can always be worse,” seemed to always find its way into tough life conversations.
I was nine years old when we lost my grandmother suddenly to heart failure. My mom, the youngest girl from a family of 12, was 27 at the time. Truth be told, the pain from that time in my life 41 years ago, is still so real that my eyes tear up as I sit here typing.
My grandmother was my best friend and loved me like no one else did or ever has since – true void.
In May of 2017 my mom began her journey with heart problems.
As an only child of a single parent to say this caused me much anxiety would be an understatement. The paralysis I felt, the fear, the knowing that heart disease took both of my grandparents, as well as altered the lives of many family members – the fear was real.
It was not a fear heightened by creating drama; it was facing a reality – mortality.
Suddenly I found myself falling to my default, taught to me by this very woman, “it could be worse.” I recognized how fortunate I was to still have my mother here, 23 years beyond what my mother had with her own. I recognized the opportunity we had to try and “fix,” yes fix her, so we could have even more years and then – I prayed.
From May 2017, until this very morning in which I write this, I pray not just for my mother to maintain good health, but for God to help me be strong enough for when the time comes that it’s no longer that simple.
Silly as it sounds to some, prayer is often times the only thing that helps me return to sleep when my mind runs rapid in the wee hours with worry.
We are after all at that stage of our life. The “middle” years we hear so much about. We care for our young, as we are called to care for our parents, as they once did for us.
The past five years, have held more tissues, hugs and how may we helps than I care to recall. Reality is just plain and quite simply tough.
As luck would have it in our case, early this fall my mother underwent a procedure which will help her heart and those years we prayed for seem to now be ahead of us. The journey from last May to this present day, however, were filled with “it could be worse” moments.
The point of all of this is really quite simple, choose love and don’t look back.
That’s what I was reminded of most this past year and a half. This life is so very fragile, no days are promised to any of us. We were lucky to get the shoulder shaking by way of my mom’s first “bus ride” (as I call it) in May of 2017. Like most moms, she’s the strength behind many of us. We needed the reminder that she too is human.
So for this issue, the final one of this 2018 year, a year which taught me much and I gladly bid adieu – this is for my mom. It’s also for my beautiful friends who held my hand, prayed and gave me grace in the moments when I needed it the most.
Man it’s been tough.
Life … what a funny, crazy, exhausting (at times) ride.
Thank you, mom, for demonstrating what it means to be strong. Thank you for not giving up, when some just might. Thank you for listening to your hippy daughter as she offered all the alternative opportunities which might help. Mostly thank you for teaching us all what the face of strength and grace look like. I love you.
Hasta la bye bye 2018. Thank you for the laughs, the love, the lessons and the renewed hope that brighter days await us. Amen.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.