Friday, December 7, 2012

the name I cannot leave off: grief during the holidays

A Christmas note to my grandmother

Dear Grannie,

This is the 3rd Christmas without you, but I haven't been able to remove your name from my Christmas card list.  It's not like I can just draw a line through "Grannie" and I can't seem to bring myself to start a new list and omit your name.  Don't worry, I won't actually mail you a Christmas card, but as I address all the other ones, I'll be wishing that I could.

I'll imagine what you would say upon receipt and I think of myself holding the phone up to my ear as you gush over how much the kids have grown.  I'd smile as I heard all your usual sayings about how fast the kids grow up...how it will all be over before I know it...and how you just wish you lived closer.  Then, you'd of course say something about the poem I wrote on the back.  You never were short on praise for me, and as hard as it was to receive it, I'm still secretly thankful you did it.  You'd ask me at least three times over the course of the Christmas shopping season about the girls' shoe sizes, dress sizes, and underwear sizes (because, you know, you were practical like that).  All that squared away, you'd ask me if I was getting enough rest and not taking on too many projects.  And even though I always said "yes," you knew that I meant "no," and you'd proceed in telling me how important it is to take care of myself (because, again, you were practical like that).

I'd imagine how you'd close the conversation in your southern drawl because it was the same almost every time:  "You know how much I love you, darlin'.  It won't be too long now 'fore I see ya."

But even though I can't physically hear those words now, I think of how they still ring true today.  It won't be long, in the whole scheme of time, 'fore I see ya, Grannie, up in Heaven.  And while I wait, I'll be sending you Christmas cards in my head and replaying our old conversations.  And I'm pretty sure you'll find a way to let me know you're thinking of me, too.  Because you are practical like that.

I'll love you forever,
Jen

To my readers:  Grief is not often discussed, especially around the holidays, but I invite you, in the comments, to leave us with a name of a person whom you miss, and why, so that we can celebrate those not with us anymore on this earth.  Sometimes, it does wonders for the heart just to speak of our loved-ones names and let others know why there are so important to us.

18 comments :

  1. My grandfather. He died two years ago this coming May of kidney cancer. Though, I had a dad in my life, he was the one who taught me about true gentlemen.

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  2. I miss my Dad,Elmer. He went to be with the Lord six years ago now. I miss his laugh and his love for life and most importantly, his love for Christ.

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  3. My adorable mom, Hallie, who was my best friend. She died of cancer 8 years ago.

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  4. My BFF Helen, who died a month ago of cancer-I miss your astute comments and laughing together at the trials of life ~!

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  5. Thank you for making this space available- you are right- grief is not discussed at Christmas - yet it is time when loved ones are sorely missed - even though we rejoice they are now free from pain and disease and with Jesus in Heaven.

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  6. Dave, my husband, died 13 months ago; the pain is unrelenting and I'm a practicing Christian. If not for God, I've have been dead by now.

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  7. My father, Ron, a delightful friend to many; always full of jokes waiting for an audience. He taught me so much about the Lord and relating to people. One of his favorite verses he used to comfort others is Psalm 116.15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints".

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  8. My Grandma. Wish I could send her a Christmas card too and call her up to talk about the kids and politics and what I'm reading. This is the third year I can't. Thank you, you drew out sentiments I was trying to avoid but are good to have.

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  9. I love your way of remembrance, Jen. This is my third Christmas without my Dad, and I still sniffle when I see those boxes of chocolate-covered cherries we always used to give him.
    And it's my second Christmas without my sister, Martha. A fellow writer, she was my biggest supporter.

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  10. My son never got to celebrate any Christmases with us but we choose to include him every year nonetheless. See, he left this world to be with Jesus at the baby age of two months almost 9 years ago. Yes, I miss him so very much. I'm thankful you gave those of us missing loved ones during the holidays a place to share. Blessings to you this Christmas.

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  11. My grandma, oh how I miss her. I miss standing at the sink after the big thanksgiving dinner and I wash she dries and we laughed until we couldn't get breath. Washing dishes just isn't the same without her.

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  12. Jen--my mother, Helen Lindsey, is the one I miss the most around the holidays. She died at 55 from cancer--I was only 34 at the time. She loved to sing, as do I, and growing up I remember her taking us to free Christmas concerts when she could find them. Now when I hear some of my favorite Christmas albums--James Taylor, Josh Groban, Andrea Boccelli--I know she'd love to hear them, too. There's usually one or two times during the season when I hear on a song on the radio when I'm driving around and I just start tearing up.

    I miss her a lot. Thanks for letting us share.

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  13. my nephew, cameron. he died three years ago on december 19th. unexpectedly. age 22. he was going to finish school. marry his blair. grow a family. my brother will light a gigantic star on the mountain on the 19th. and i'll see it every morning on my way to work. and i will thank god for our time with him....

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  14. Found you via twitter. this is BEAUTIFUL. So tender. so important. Thank you for sharing your heart here.

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  15. What a beautiful space you have create here, Jen. I hold the memory of my parents and my good friend, Emily. Remembering them warms my heart with smiles, love but some tears as we are apart at least for now.

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  16. A really moving piece. I am now the senior person in our family. And how I miss those gleeful lines of praise. I wrote a couple of days ago for those who have lost in this season of great gain and I've had such an outpouring of hurt from people. It's real, but you have done a great job of keeping us focused.

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  17. Beautiful...and you are so right Jen, we often avoid grief during the holidays. My Mamaw and Mom come to mind first.

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  18. This touched my heart, Jen. We always miss RB's parents--both in heaven now. They loved our girls and would have delighted in their great grandchildren. And as always, our Sarah. Thank you for giving voice to grief.

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