This holiday season has been a season of reflection for me. As we make the journey to the manager during this season of Advent, I'm reminded of the great love of our Heavenly Father. I am aware of it on most days but this year, for some reason, I am made more keenly aware.
I LOVE the season of Advent!!! I love the lights, the food, the time away from work, but I mostly enjoy the time spent with loved ones. There are many loved ones who are no longer able to celebrate this season here on earth with us and that leaves a huge holes - gaps in our lives that can never be filled again in this first world. Life moves forward for us but in a very different way. That hole, that loss, that infinite missing and longing...it never really gets "better" it's just different. It's a wound that never really heals. As time passes, it forms a protective covering but it's very thin and can be ripped away by something as commonplace as a scent or a song. We laugh and celebrate but always with an ache...sometimes it takes our breath away and other times it causes our cheeks to glisten with tears for a time gone by but more often it brings a warm feeling way down deep knowing that we are so much richer for having loved those folks so deeply.
I miss my Dad. I make no excuses...I miss him every day and feel his absence in a very real ways every day. Sometimes that missing brings a flood of tears, sometimes a feeling of inconsolable longing but mixed with that is ALWAYS a warmth and love that is inexplicable...I can't describe it, it's something you have to experience. People tire of hearing about the loss of our loved ones but I don't think I'll ever be ready to stop talking about my Dad. Giving him over to eternity has brought to the forefront the loss of my grandparents. I miss them more now then I did when the loss was fresh. I think it also has a great deal to do with the fact that my own children are growing up...entirely too quickly, might I add! I am beginning to realize that sooner than I'm really ready for it, things are going to change within my four walls. I think that only adds to my reflective state.
My Dad's passing has also made me more intentional with my Mom. My mom is not the type to gush and smooch and hug...I'm like that as well. However, I think since Dad's death we've both become more intentional with the expression of our love - showing it rather than it just being inferred. I'm not going to lie, it's difficult for me because by nature I'm just not that way. I can be that way and many of my treasured friends will tell you that they may randomly receive big mushy emails or messages from me during particularly nostalgic times (which probably annoy them...sorry). I've just come to realize that the people we love won't always be here with us. Many things can separate us from those we love...death, geography and change. So, I decided that those I love would never have to wonder - I'm going to tell them while I have them in their earthly vessels that I love them and that they are treasured by me. That's one regret I don't have with my Dad...I knew he loved me and he knew I loved him. The people who are precious to our hearts...they should know it! We should tell them! Don't say, "I'll tell them tomorrow"or "I'll see them again sometime"! If geography prevents a visit...send them a note! If you can see them...squeeze them tight and tell them you love them! If it's an old friend, tell them how treasured your time together is in your heart and that you love them. Tell your family...show the people around you that you love them! BE INTENTIONAL!
This season in my life is interesting...it's a melting pot of emotions from all directions. It's a blessing and curse - my heart wells up when I think of the many people who have touched and continue to touch my life, whether near or far. It also brings a sense of sadness that many of you are far away (separated by geography or circumstance) no matter the situation, I hold each of you close in my heart.
I miss my Dad but am so very grateful that my Mom is able to spend the holidays with us. We don't talk too much about Dad or memories when we're together...I think it's too hard and we haven't come far enough in the journey to do it without tears. It's odd that even as an adult I still don't know what to do with my Mother's tears. But those moments from the past are shared with a knowing look or a random remark. We share the same memories, albeit from different perspectives.
I have a red berry & cedar candle that I burn every year at Christmas time...reminds me of Christmases when I was the preacher's daughter at Fincastle UMC. That simple candle brings back a flood of wonderful memories for me along with mixed emotions of happiness and longing. Sometimes I long for the days "up the valley" in house heated by an oil furnace, the only phone in the house hanging on the wall in the kitchen, rabbit ear antennas, TVs with no remote, a Christmas tree sprayed with canned snow and lit by multi-colored lights with GIANT bulbs and stockings full of fruit and candy canes. I miss the silver tree with the color wheel at my Nanny's house and the homemade chocolate pie but one thing that I don't have to miss...THE LOVE! I feel that love every time a memory comes to mind and while I can't hug those necks, their love crosses the veil of Heaven like a gentle breeze and sweeps over me and warms my heart, makes me smile and yes, brings a tear.
I am infinitely grateful for the blessing of my life and the life my husband and I have made with our children. Life is a journey and ours is full of twists and turns, ups and downs and everything in between but the one thing that is constant is LOVE! We love each other through it all.
I pray that this Christmas and every day beyond brings each of us the love of those we have in our lives and those who are loving us from the other shore and that we seize EVERY opportunity to LOVE!
The Preacher's Daughter