Goodbyes are not the end

I’ve always heard that when someone we love passes, they never leave us. Supposedly, their spirit stays alive through us, but it’s hard to hug a soul. When we need comfort, we rely on memories of what those we loved would tell us to do. Or we might surmise, based on past experiences with them, what they would think about our actions. Sometimes I feel that the most challenging part of saying Goodbye to those we love isn’t in the goodbye itself but the uncertainty of will we see them again.

If we are a person of faith, we believe life is beyond the physical realm. I hope that’s true. In my heart, I think it is because if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t believe in the reason that we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Nor would I believe that Jesus died for our sins. I’ve seen too many miracles, especially at Christmas, to argue the existence of heaven. I can’t say that there are or aren’t angels, but I believe they exist. Christmas is one of the times that I think missing someone we love is more complex than people realize.

Every Christmas, my family would get together with my Dad’s side of the family. Even after my grandmother died, my Dad was the glue that held us together. When Dad died, everything changed. The first couple of years after he died, I made an effort to put up a tree and get together with friends. I blasted Christmas music throughout the house, doing my best to stay in the holiday mood. My mom struggled because not only did she miss my father terribly, but she didn’t feel like celebrating Christmas. This year was the first year she’s gotten in the mood to celebrate, and the cat decided to eat the damn Christmas tree. We had to put the tree outside the house because she wouldn’t stop and make herself sick. So much for the decorations.

When Dad died, the visits stopped. Mom and I didn’t feel like partaking with the family, and everyone moved into other states or started having their families. I felt alone and became bitter and agitated. I tried my best to celebrate the holiday, but she wasn’t anti-Christmas. She didn’t want to go through the trouble of all the decorations, only to take them down a few weeks later. It was like both of us felt the pull of the undertow. And neither of us could snap out of it. It took a long time for us to get our Christmas spirit back, and I attribute that to Dad. I felt Dad told me to stop having a pity party and start celebrating life. His faith was strong, and he always said to me that no matter what happened in life, he believed that we would see each other again one day.

At the Christmas Eve services we’ve attended, I watch as the families celebrate together. Some of the families have grown in numbers while others shrink. There is heartbreak and celebration throughout our lifetimes, and the most challenging part of the journey is knowing when the sorrow will fade. The truth is that we learn to live with the pain. Sometimes I’m afraid I’ll forget what Dad looked like or sounded like because the years make my memories fuzzy.

It’s possible to keep a person’s memory alive. Sometimes I dream about those who are no longer on this earth. It helps comfort me when I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. When my grandmothers passed, they told me before that they knew their time was short and that they would always be with me. One of them told me she’d see me again. I have to believe that’s true, or else everything else feels so depressing.

This Christmas, I celebrate the birth of Jesus and remember those who once celebrated with me. If there is such a thing as a party in heaven, I hope they have an incredible adventure. I take solace, knowing that they are a part of what I look forward to when it’s my time to pass, but I know not to take a single holiday or day for granted.

If there is one thing I learned from those who died, everything is a cycle. What we do with our time in those cycles is up to us. Celebrating holidays and our lives is something to cherish. No one knows for sure what awaits us on the other side, but if you are a believer, then you find yourself comforted by faith. Not many people enjoy goodbyes unless it’s to someone who broke their heart. But saying hello to holidays with a new perspective is worth exploring. Have a great day, everyone.

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