December 12th, 2014 is a date I will remember just as much as I remember her birthday. It is the day my Mom’s worldly journey ended. Just a couple weeks before Christmas. To this day I know her soul picked this date for a reason. She wanted the day of her passing to not be something of heartache or depression, but of love, festivity and surrounded by celebration amidst her favorite holiday (although she loved them all). She knew her family would be together or would soon be together to be able to take in that day as a united front. Even with all the love she left us, each year I am reminded that I take the brunt of pulling together a magical Christmas for not just my little family, but for my brothers and my Dad. I am the matriarch now….the holiday matriarch at that! It’s not something that I feel forced to do, in fact I am honored to revel in her traditions! It is a part of my mom that only I can share, a part of her legacy. I feel close to her in those moments of planning, wrapping, and wrestling with our ever disappearing Elf on the Shelf, Gustopher (we bought three last year….three). However, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wear her perfume and ugly Christmas sweaters (she would call them glorious) to try to get through it all with minimal tears.
Now let me tell you, my entire life, I have never been short on unconditional love. I have a family worth all the envy in the Universe and a solid handful of wonderful, soul boosting friends, but when I can’t text her my fun Christmas cookie ideas, or the crazy Santa photo the girls took, or the heartfelt present we got for Dad, it is lonely. My brothers, Dad and husband, as much as they try soincredibly hard, they just don’t have the same enthusiasm and reaction as my Mom did. In fact, I have yet to delete her number from my phone. I was her right hand man. She called me her “Holiday Buddy.” Missing her during the holidays is like trying to fill a Christmas tree stand with water that has an unrecognizable hole in it. It’s doing the job and it makes the tree look and smell phenomenal, but it’s taking so much more effort to keep it filled and there’s a pretty big mess underneath the tree skirt. There is a void and three years later I can honestly say, my leaky tree stand is still struggling a little, yet I am so thankful for my nice thick tree skirt to hide the mess. I feel like as my girls get older with each passing year they are now becoming my “Holiday Buddies.” They share the same excitement for decorating, fireplaces and Christmas music from November to December that I do. I am also incredibly fortunate to have friends who include me on festive outings and get excited about things similar to that of my Mom. They unknowingly are beginning to repair that hole.
I often refer to a quote I saw directly after losing her.
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. Youwill be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”
The truth of it has become even more evident with each passing day as I have to remind myself I can’t text or call her with the latest and greatest life event. Although, rebuilding life with her in my heart and watching her come through in my daughters, family and friends is something of an unexpected gift that keeps on giving. Finding them just took and is taking some time.