For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about the candles my mom and I used to make for Christmas presents. They were the kind you would roll up and the wax was in a honeycomb pattern. The only color and smell I remember is purple wax and it smelled of lavender. I remember Christmas smelled of cinnamon mainly in our home. I remember the warmth of my home in the cold MN winter. I remember all the Christmas décor, most of which was hand made by my mom.
I remember the first Christmas after mom had passed my dad refused to help put the Christmas tree up. Dad was Jehovahs witness and they don’t celebrate holidays like Christmas as its origins are pagan. While mom was alive all the presents were from mom and dad but the décor went up because mom and I put it up. So, as a grieving 16 year old I put the tree up myself for the first time. I set up chairs around the tree so I would have a make shift scaffolding supporting me as I strung the tree with lights and ornaments. My dad sat downstairs watching tv and stubbornly not helping. I know that being Jehovahs Witness was such an integral part of dads life and for that I’m extremely proud of him. (of course it’s only as I have aged that I have become proud of him for continuing to stay so strong in his faith in the face of adversity) But only now, now that he’s gone and now that I have had many years to sit on this do I wonder if Christmas reminded him of the incredibly painful loss of the love of his life. Mom LOVED Christmas and so did I. That Christmas, after losing her only a few months prior, I clung to normalcy as I wasn’t ready to face reality. Maybe dad needed normalcy too, but instead of Christmas he needed to stick to the faith that saved him.
I know everyone grieves differently, shit I know that a person grieves differently for different people, theres no manual or strict order to the process. This is a great example. This could have also been an example of when emotions and loss tore a family apart. Thankfully it was not. We were grieving like we were on two parallel train tracks that only intersected to cross paths and go different directions. Thankfully my dad and I only grew closer as the years went on, we didn’t talk about mom often but we continued on our parallel tracks and supported each other each step of the way.
This is infant loss and miscarriage awareness month. Knowing I have no experience in this except through friends. Knowing everyone grieves differently. Knowing that grieving the loss of anyone is awful. Knowing that even though I have a lifetime of experience in grief I don’t know what the “answers” are to any of the grieving questions. I hope we all can be more observant to those hurting today and know when to step in. Know when to shut up and just be there. Know when our own shit will get in the way so it’s best to remain on the parallel track. Know when to ask what the person needs. Grieving sucks.