The Holiday Season Without You - Year 3
It’s hard to believe that this holiday season is the third one without you, Mom. And in reality, since COVID stole our 2020 holidays, it’s been 4 years since we’ve gotten to sit down together as a whole family during the holiday season. You know, I thought it would get easier as time passes, but I’m beginning to find out it’s actually sometimes harder.
The first year without you felt like a bad dream. We all put on a brave face and shared Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve together. We ate big meals with some of your recipes thrown in, we unwrapped presents decorated with your wrapping paper, and we decorated our homes just trying to go through the motions without you. You were the mastermind behind all of our holiday magic and we were just trying to recapture a tiny scrap of that magic. But deep down, we were all in so much pain, consumed by the grief underneath the surface.
The second year was marred by more loss in November with Lilith’s passing, our beloved feline companion of over 15 years. She was with Nikki and I every day of our married life. I remember thinking about how much you grieved the loss of your constant companion Bear when it was his time. I knew you’d know exactly what to tell me to make me feel better…but I couldn’t call you to get those kind words of assurance that only a Mother could provide. Lilith’s passing just compounded the grief I continued to feel from your passing; a harsh reminder that everyone and everything I love will some day go away.
This year feels like the wound of losing you is so fresh again. Two months ago we almost lost Dad. Pneumonia and a resulting fall almost stole him from us. But after a lengthy hospital stay and weeks of 24 hour at-home care, Dad did what he always manages to do - recover with grit and tenacity. It was a scary situation and one that Nikki and I had to navigate alone for the first time. There were many times over the years when Dad was hospitalized with multiple heart procedures and a lengthy lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. During those times you were always a visit or phone call away. You would reassure us that everything would be OK and that you were praying continuously for him and our family. Even when you began falling ill, you were the rock of our family. Somehow when we’d visit, your smile and infectious laughter would sooth the pain we all felt. You’d spend more time talking about how you were worried about us or Dad and how our lives were going than what you were going through. It felt like even in your darkest moments, you were always there for us.
This holiday season, we’re so incredibly grateful to still get to spend family time together with Dad. It’s an absolute blessing to continue to create new holiday memories. But I just can’t seem to shake the consistent pain that comes with losing a parent and almost losing the other one. Only children really have it made during childhood…later adulthood can be a much more difficult thing to navigate on your own.
You’d be really proud of Nikki though, Mom. She’s exactly what you knew her to be - a strong, caring, intelligent woman with a heart of gold, just like yours. She’s our rock these days. She’s been so kind and helpful through everything we’ve endured over the last few years. Dad and I can without hesitation say that we couldn’t have made it through it all without her. I know you’re smiling from where you are seeing how much she cares for Dad and I. I promised you shortly before you passed that I’d take care of Dad and Nikki would take care of me. I hope we’re living up to those promises in your eyes.
With the holidays fast approaching, I try to remind myself that in some way you’re always with me; that as long as your memory lives on, a part of you never really left. We will remember you in everything we do. We will do our absolute best to embrace the joy and light of the holiday season, while reserving a special place for the grief we continue to feel at your loss, remembering that you still live and breathe deep down within our hearts.
Until we meet again, Mom.