It hits me every few days that I am living in the midst of another “first”. This is the first Thanksgiving and Christmas with both my parents gone. My soul seems to be going through a quiet sadness about this new reality too. There’s this underlying, “can’t quite put my finger on, can’t quite articulate” grief going on.
I mentioned in an earlier blog post that losing my dad a couple of months ago has been a different journey than when I lost my mom 25 years ago. I know there are many reasons for this too. I was young when my mom died. My mom and I saw each other every day. We laughed together, sang together, and snuggled on the couch together. She was not only my mom but a best friend to me, a shy, introverted, awkward teenage girl.
Grieving the loss of my dad has been a completely different experience. We never had the ideal daddy/daughter relationship. I never actually remember hearing him say the words “I love you” until I was an adult. We didn’t truly begin to grow closer until after my mom died. Yet, through the years, despite being a challenging man to understand, I loved him. As an adult, I also lived across the country from him. I spoke to him on the phone nearly everyday but I only saw him face to face once or twice a year. My dad also spent the last 4 years of his life bedridden. His passing was, in many ways, a blessing.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband shared with me how the 24 hour Christmas station was already playing on the radio. I’ve periodically switched over to the station to listen to a few tunes while driving. I’ve noticed how, this year, a couple of the songs remind me of my dad. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song”, “Sliver Bells” and “White Christmas” are the songs I remember my dad liking.
It’s interesting but, as far back as I can remember, each one of those tunes tends to usher in more sadness than happiness. Not sure why but they do. And yet, I enjoy hearing these songs despite the melancholy that washes over me when I hear them. This morning I had this thought: part of this journey requires me to walk through the melancholy too. There are gifts tucked away in the sad too.
The gift of remembering His promise that this is not my home.
The gift of remembering His faithfulness that even though sad is some times part of the journey it is not how the story will end.
The gift of remembering to love and treasure the beautiful people still in my life today.
The gift of remembering that this life is a gift (the happy and the sad) and gifts don’t stay wrapped up. We unwrap the gift and share that gift with others.