At the grocery last week, I glanced up from the piles of food moving slowly toward the bagging area. The old man was standing by the customer service desk, hunched over with baggy faded overalls. He shuffled slowly up to the desk, and my heart beat a little faster, even knowing it could not be him. When he turned slightly to hear what the clerk was saying, my heart sank. Of course it wasn’t him. This was the second Christmas without him.
A week later, out with friends at a small bistro, a nicely dressed woman helped her mother move through the room. Her mother was frail but smiling and working hard to walk past our table toward the door. My friend moved some chairs out of the way to make a path and asked if she wanted to sit down with us for a moment. She sat precariously on the edge of the wooden chair. It was all I could do to hold it together. I quickly took a drink of water to drown that thick feeling in my throat that often accompanies tears. This was the tenth year without her.
Struggles with parents are some of life’s most difficult moments. I could have said that many times throughout my life, but I had no clue just how difficult those moments would be at the end. Both of my parents were lost first to dementia, then to death. I had no idea how difficult it could be. even after they were gone.
Holidays bring joy and family together, but they also bring feelings of loss. I find myself in tears frequently during the Christmas season. Listening to favorite Christmas songs, hunting for the holiday recipe written in mom’s handwriting, and old photos of holidays past are with me, especially at this time of year.
Sending blessings to everyone during this season. As you gather with friends and family, your joys and sadness will always be a part of your life. Those cherished memories will always bring smiles and tears.