Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Following a Death in the Family

Wait, don’t go away; it’s not all gloomy. Yes, my sister died early this December...totally unexpected, it was. As I said on Facebook, I am sad but not depressed. I’m not sure how to explain that. I cry sometimes. I wish I could pick up the phone. Something is missing from my very heart. But I am not surrounded by darkness. I don’t understand why my sister had to go away so suddenly; it doesn’t seem to make any sense. But life never does make sense, does it, really? As my seat neighbor on the flight to Boise said, “Embrace the moment”. I’ve been trying to learn that for ever so long, and I usually fail. Maybe now I will learn.

At the same time, I have no regrets. Chris and I embraced every moment we spent together. We worked together when my mom died, when my step-father died, when my dad had a stroke. We talked together on the phone every week in the past decade. We talked about our families, our jobs, our projects at home, some of our struggles and disappointments, and our dreams. Wherever we went with the conversation, she tried to be sure we brought it to a positive or optimistic conclusion before we got off the phone.

Chris was interested in everything you did, if you wished to share it. I went to Chicago with my husband on a business trip last fall. When we arrived, I let her know. She texted back, “About 5 min’s ago I told Jim that u guys were prob just about at Chicago. I guess I was right. Have fun!” How many people are that interested, and that selfless, to know right down to five minutes when you will arrive somewhere...on a pleasure trip, when she couldn't afford a pleasure trip?

Christmas was her favorite holiday, her favorite season. She put herself into giving joy to others all year long, but particularly at Christmas time. So, what would she want us to do...with Christmas right around the corner from her passing? I think she would want us to do what we’re doing: to decorate the tree; to make the good foods; and to wish every one of you a very Happy Christmas!