It’s been 5 years… this is the 4thChristmas. Losing Mom will always be one of the hardest days of my life. Since then, I have worked hard to make her proud… however she may know or see me or understand. There is so much I would tell her if I could…
Thank you for all the signs you have been sending. I see Cardinals everywhere. I have seen your name, heard your songs, felt your breath against my skin on a cold day walking the dog, I have known your words. You are here.
And so on this Christmas Eve night, I am sitting with so many people on my heart. Mom taught me how to do that. I feel so surrounded by love right now, it’s palpable. And as I sit here to write my Christmas blog which has been a very long tradition, I came home from dropping dad off after church and listened to Christmas music for the drive home. I cried a little, talked to those people on my heart and kept coming back to a phrase I heard again tonight after sharing it with a friend who is going through some challenges currently.
“Do not be afraid.”
I have probably written those words a few times on this night in years past, but the truth is, to me… it’s one of the messages that I carry with me.
Christmas brings up all of that emotion for me. It is hard, and it is beautiful and it is true and it is brutal. It is all the things that we all know after losing someone and it effecting you deeply.
I wrote a message tonight to my friend… in it I shared some of those feelings. May we all be so brave when we are facing the unknown. May we all jump into it with wild abandon, love and fearlessness. Because life happens whether we are ready for it or not. And it’s not always the wonderful moments that we carry. Sometimes it’s the hardest of things we carry longer than we need to, but we keep doing it because it’s what we have known.
I had the honor of cooking and serving dinner the other night to patients and their families who are staying at Hope Lodge while they are going through cancer treatments in Philly.
I sat and talked to a few. I hugged and laughed with them… and then I needed to retreat into the kitchen and wash the dishes. I needed to feel useful. I needed to do something… to clean the pots that were hard to clean. I needed to get the dirt out and fix something. Anything. Because even after the meal and the gifts of the cozy blankets, I still felt helpless. And it hit me. It’s Christmas, we were playing Christmas music, I was with these beautiful people who were facing some really hard moments ahead… And my emotions started to get the best of me.
And so sometimes, we are called to do the dishes. To scrub. For as long as it takes.
Sometimes we can only stand in the fire until we can’t. And in that moment I couldn’t any longer.
I wrote my friend a Christmas message tonight. I know she wouldn’t mind if I shared some of it with you…
Chop wood, carry water. Through the shit, through the fire, when we are enlightened and also before we even know what it means.
When I got the Attraversiamo tattoo I realize now there were so many reasons for it… “let’s cross over, jump into the unknown.” Yes.
Yes. And Yes.
I feel so much of my life is that right now.
I don’t need to know what happens next…. I just want to be in the what is happening now.
I am reminded of the quote from the Christmas gospel (no, I am not about to get all religious on you, I am actually referencing Peanuts…. And Linus)… Because, well…. Linus is my favorite Peanuts character.
So when Charlie Brown yells with his head back… Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
Linus quietly walks over and says, “sure… I can tell you… lights please.”
And then the part that will always remind me of one of the last Christmas Church services I ever went to with my mom, was when she was rapidly declining, before she moved to the nursing home…
The priest’s sermon was about exactly this…
And it was when the Angel Gabriel came….
“Fear NOT”…. Do not be afraid.
And there it was….. mom told us all that night that she would use that as her mantra going into this decline and knowing that she would soon no longer be able to communicate with us.
And so it is now… with you. It comes to me like she is sending it to us….For however many days and months and years are ahead on this earth… for you… for me…. For any of us…
Do not be afraid….. I don’t know how to make that feel good or right or even possible….
But there is something in it that I remembered the Christmas 4 years ago that I laid my head on her chest…. And said goodbye.
I kept telling myself DO NOT be afraid.
I whispered it to her as I walked out the door for the last time.
If I could wrap you up in my arms for hours right now I would tell you that in this moment.
Fear not. Do not be afraid.
I am here.
Merry Christmas. Because… well…. Why not……?
So Merry Christmas. Maybe this year is about really embracing that fear, and jumping into the unknown with it. Standing in the fire until we can’t.
Being there for the people who need you the most in the moments they need you the most, even if you barely know them, or you know them for two months plus a lifetime before.
Do not be afraid.
And when you are called to do the dishes, scrub. Scrub like hell…
until the last pot is finished.