I am always moved each season by the song “Home for the Holidays.” In the past, it has elicited a general sense of yearning, but superficial to the touch. A temporary graze of the hand, quickly eased.
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze.
This year, I am mired in its depths. Its resonance weighing down my every step; I rise; and fall.
Since July 7th, my husband and I have been allowed to grieve for Benjamin only in short bursts of peace, and we have devoured these moments, as if famished. By using the word grieve, I am referring to the soul-wrenching process of finding the space between. It is the metamorphosis of a palpable void into an infinite space of connectivity, where we can exist both physically without our son and spiritually with him at all times.
A love that reaches beyond all boundaries.
In the brief moments of peace and silence, my family was able to find a hope for the holidays – the first we would spend without Ben’s giggles as he tore apart wrapping paper and we placed red bows on his head. The holidays for our family usually begin on Thanksgiving Day with the smell of a fresh roasting turkey and sweet potato soufflé, the sound of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in the background, and the touch of our interlocked hands in blessing, We thank you for all you have given us. We thank you for this love.
Over a month ago, our journey through grief led us to a place that we immediately called “God’s Country,” a land of rebirth and energy, peace and love. We easily made the decision to relocate, a first step in rebuilding our life. Together as a family, we discussed our future of hope and growth, envisioning a time and place where we could begin the process of true healing. As we do each year, our Black Friday would be spent with daddy struggling to ensure our fresh-cut Christmas tree made it to the baler with all branches intact, the girls eyes glittering with excitement as they caught flurries of snow on their tongues, and my picking out fresh garland and cinnamon pine cones for the house. Christmas music and rosy cheeks on the ride home.
The vision was close enough to touch. The girls were brimming with excitement. We would all spend the Saturday after Thanksgiving turning the tree into a homespun mastery of lights, the girls excitedly placing each unique family ornament gently in its “perfect spot.” Standing back admiring our creation, then snuggling on the couch watching Christmas movies, the fireplace and tree being the only light penetrating the sanctity of our protected space.
Take a bus, take a train, go and hop an aeroplane.
No longer a graze, the song now penetrates to form a deeper scar. I do not know how to tell my daughters that Daddy won’t be "home for the holidays," that the path we have carefully forged to heal during our first holiday season without their brother will not exist this year. Our rebuilding together will have to wait. Daddy is the other half of your world, my loves, he will come to you soon. Just hold on.
This season, I can honestly imagine what other families have felt listening to that particular song in years past. Military fathers and mothers, singing Silent Night to their children over static-filled phones, their hearts being ripped apart with each note; families who have lost everything through tragedies, layoffs or divorces; individuals struggling with the loss of a loved one whose face will no longer be seen opening presents on Christmas morning. And, I feel so very sorry that anyone must experience the yearning of that song.
For the pleasure that you bring when you make that doorbell ring.
As I watch the snowflakes outside our window today, the promise of what was to be, is no more. I cannot mutter the truth that the doorbell will not ring, no matter how much you wish. But, Daddy loves you so very much.
Maybe the holidays are not limited to a time and place; quite possibly the holidays are truly a state of mind. It is the cushion that catches you when you fall. It is the space where you exist in eternal peace with God and your loved ones, a space of light, where together you can survive anything, a comforting reprieve. The holidays exist all around us, every day. My oldest daughter reaffirmed this to me on our ride to school last week, exclaiming "I love it here, mom, its like we are in Heaven in the stars."
This may all be true, but
I do so truly wish that I could give you the symbolic time and place of the “holiday season” this special year – the turkey, hiking for the perfect tree, the mystery of Christmas upon us; together, as we should be.
If only I could give you this; but today, in this moment, I am offering you so much more. Your daddy and I have been building for you a shelter from the storm, where you will find the peace of the holidays for years to come. We will protect you this day and always. When you are older and look back, know – the holidays are about your core; the Divine; your spirit; celebration; being You. You will learn one day what it means to stand on your own, to stand up for what you believe in, to be at peace within your soul, to know God. And, when you find that time and place, you will understand what it really means to come home for the holidays.