the lights are thrown upon trees, our pocket books are emptied, and when our hearts are suppose to be full they seem to be the emptiest. It is a holiday of epic contradictions. Yet among all the glitter and the whines of bankruptcy and false intentions comes just a little light of hope.
Nine years ago my perspective of December was changed forever. It was nine years ago and yet every year when I sit in my mother's living room and see the beautiful Christmas tree and listen to Willie Nelson's FA LA LAing (Seriously a highlight of Christmas every year.) and I lay there under the Christmas tree in the darkness looking up at the lights through the beautiful false boughs (we went plastic years ago. Tragic I know) and see all the ornaments and I am grateful for the moments that I have experienced in this month.
On a night very much like this one nine years ago my mother told me that she had cancer two weeks before Christmas. When somebody tells you that they have cancer it doesn't register at first. It takes a moment for your head to grasp it. It doesn't seem real. Like a wispy dream or a terrible Lifetime movie you tell yourself that it doesn't happen. People you don't know get cancer. But not people like your mother.
And this stuff doesn't happen on Christmas.
Cause it's the happiest season of all. The season of Charlie Brown and The Grinch and the island of misfit toys finding homes. Not siting across from your mother and wondering if she is going to die.
That on Christmas morning the tree may be lit, the presents stacked with care but your mother might not be there.
The force of life that brought you into the world. The one thing that you see indestructible is in fact very human. So in this season of hurried endings and strange beginnings you realize that your life that you knew has been taken. Ripped away. There in that moment all you realize is that you are breathing and that is the only thing that you are aware of. And you realize that breathing is the only thing that you can do. Is to keep breathing. Cause in each breath is a moment that she is alive. That she is there.
The world felt wrong. What seemed a bursting season of light and music was one of darkness. The sky looked pissed. The wind talked back. I looked different. My house felt wrong. It all just seemed wrong. And I lived in the isle of darkness. Till someone shined the light of hope.
I can never say enough about My Grandma and Ms. Holli during this time. My grandma who by her presence was there. She was with my mom at the hospital. She was there at home when I couldn't handle school. She was there when I just needed somebody to offer a voice of hope. I don't remember words or conversations but perhaps that is how love talks. It speaks to the inside of us and we hear its voices through our souls instead of our ears.
To Ms. Holli. Who I can honestly say is my second mother. She organized meals, brought friends over when my mom was up for it and took care of life around our house while we focused on healing. Who wouldn't allow me to feel despair. When I think of friendship I think of Ms. Holli and my mom.
So instead of being a giver that Christmas I became a recipient of a thousand blessings, through dinner, kind words, and hope (which is the greatest gift of all).
So nine years later I ask my mother about this experience and she says the most profound thing. " I do not let this experience define me."
So I do not let this experience define my Christmases.