I never forget that Susanna has died, yet I constantly re-remember. One moment I am busy with work to do, the next the crippling realization floats back in. It happened today as I was picking up a few things for Christmas and had to once again come to terms with the missing half of the presents, replaced with an insatiable void beneath a cloud of horror. I picked up a tin of Frozen gummy candy, thinking my son will eat it eventually. He will work up an appetite opening up the mountain of toys which cannot replace what is missing. This, along with the glittery princess tree ornament I bought yesterday, these will be in Susanna’s stocking. I will never be ready to fill it with nothing.
Christmas is intense. I do not practice Christianity, yet Christmas is a season important to me. I love the smell of pine and the ability to bring it indoors. I love the ancient carols still sung, cookies (I love cookies in any season) and acts of kindness abounding. The movies are good, some of them. These things come with a price sometimes. You miss people and feelings. You ache over lost opportunities and failures to have expressed your true self. Stuff runs deep.
This year I have come to terms with a truth about Christmas in light of this role in life I have been forced to occupy. A bereaved mother lives in two worlds. Our loved ones, our ancestors, spirits, angels, elemental forces, they are here. Call me crazy if you want but I believe they love Christmas and want to be here to enjoy it. I believe the air is charged with energy by the zillions of twinkling lights. I believe we still sing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen like people did in 1833 because spirits hang around and suggest it gently into our ears so they can join in. This is a complex world we live in and it is not the only one. Out of necessity, I have embraced things not seen and found them to be real. This is how I mother my daughter, a permanent adaptation to my job.
So much to think about, so much to do. However you spend your holiday, I believe the spirits will love and support you. They will be there if you have the urge to dance, or fall in love. They will be with you if you cry gently over mixed blessings. If you need to wail and rail against the difficult situation you are in, they will be there and love you through it. We have all been in all of these places and our love and efforts will never be lost in this wondrous and inclusive universe.
Two years ago, I woke up on Christmas Eve morning and gave Susanna a gift of a pair of shoes. They were a soft yellow gold dusted with glitter, red Minnie Mouse details and a low heel. I still see the look of appreciation on her face. It encompassed so much more than shoes. Susanna felt every ounce of love I gave her, and still does. I have no doubt that we found each other through the ages and accomplished great lessons in compassion together. This never or can or should be lost. I do not leave her behind as a memory as my life moves begrudgingly on. She is with me in full color as if she were alive as ever. We are not bound by time.
December, the darkest day signaling the return of the light, a few minutes more each day until we bloom again. All is well and always will be, no matter how strong the pain. More than meets the eye, more to life than life.