Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
O, cold snowy day,
stay the day and go away.
Clear roads make my way.
I didn’t want to write about this before the winter holidays: grief is one of the issues that arises during holidays. We don’t talk about it much. After all, we are trying to celebrate and make merry, to “be happy”. Grief is there nonetheless and for some of us the monster in the room affects our ability to enjoy the winter holidays. I’ll write about it now the holidays are done and that gives me another year to think about it and prepare against the next round of festivities. They come around so quickly these days.
Grief is about more than the loss of a loved one, which for me is at the extreme end of a spectrum. The grief spectrum isn’t rated; at any one moment one loss can feel as strongly as another despite any perceived or unperceived degree of difference. I’ll not list the people who have already gone from my life or the beloved pets, independent and dependent companions whom I sometimes failed. Failure being its own form of grief.
Grief includes the loss of abilities, like when one realizes the days of youth are gone. When the risks are greater than the benefits. When you remember the different bodies you’ve had and what the other ones used to look like and feel like. When your body becomes dry and babies are no longer a possibility. When mobility limits your world. When driving is no longer an option. When food doesn’t taste good or digest well, but you know you have to eat. When all video and TV viewing require sub-titles. When large print becomes your friend. When your dresser drawer is full of granny panties instead of lacy bikinis. When you have to plan rearranging the furniture because what used to take an hour now takes three days. When you can’t remember an event all your siblings do, and you were the star of the event. When all your elders have gone and you are now the oldest person in your family.
My mom has been gone two and a half years now. It’s not easier. It’s harder in a different way. The holidays used to be all about her. She made the holidays happen for me for so many years of my life, and after I became older I wanted to spend those days with her and would arrange my schedule. Now she has gone there is an elusive unanchored feeling to the holiday, no imperative to be at her home at a certain time. Family left behind after the matriarch dies can choose to make different traditions. That old tradition is lost, gone to the graveyard of Christmas past.
Who is the new matriarch when the old one dies? Usually the first born daughter. That would be moi. The daughter who was never completely trusted. As I told my family this year I’m pretty lousy at matriarchal behavior, obviously, as the family has fallen apart. Then I proceeded to blather on with opinions and brain vomit, some of which probably didn’t need to be said to them or in front of their children. Who knows what children understand or take from adult conversations but as I left I felt I had opened the pie-hole really wide and stuffed both feet in sideways. Some matriarch. As if anybody had any doubt about my opinions and ability to brain puke all doubt has now been removed.
So one more grief, spewing words that can’t be recovered. With any luck at all, the people who were there will consider me a blowhard, a loud, opinionated, blathering, nearly senile old aunt who has no idea what she is talking about and they won’t take me seriously. Maybe the words that needn’t have been said won’t be believed, which is just as well. Maybe the words will confirm long held beliefs regarding choices. Maybe the grief is also about thinking too much and caring too much about things that shouldn’t or don’t matter.
The grief is absolutely about missing the past. Of Christmases created for you, of the delight and the surprise, of the joy and the wonder. Of Christmases you created for yourself and others that seemed to go almost right. Of repressing the memories of the parts that went wrong. Of acknowledging the sorrow created by the pressure for “perfect” holidays.
We could create holiday traditions to honor grief, to let it out for a moment. Maybe we should begin each holiday gathering by listing the names of all those who used to make our holidays special and are no longer with us. By invoking their memories we can justify celebrating them and let the grief have a few minutes of life, sharing our words, and memories, and space with the ghosts of Christmases past. Then we can let them go and enjoy the present and the new memories in the making.
Color Watch – colorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – didn’t get out this week to take new photos. Here’s some of the pretty packages I got for Christmas. The crocheted high heels were made by my paternal grandmother.
Current View – Dean Spanley (2008, PG), a New Zealand production with Jeremy Northam, an interesting historical with fantastical elements. A subtle powerful movie about grief, aging, and family. Watched Inside Out again before it had to go back. Such a great movie and I had listened to my 12 year old great-nephew and 7 year old great-niece critique it. They enjoyed it and were fascinated by the “parts of the personality”. Insight into me: as I viewed the movie the first time, I identified when each of my “personality islands” collapsed. As I watched the second time I found myself creating a “character” for grief, a sort of Morticia Addams figure dressed in slinky silky slithery black, gliding blithely along the shadows of my memories, shiny black hair streaming along beside her. Fascinating, the fertile imagination. Still watching episodes of Last Man Standing. They took some theatrical license changing the cast, different actors for the same characters, but I think it worked ok.
Currently Reading – Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones (2014, biography) by Paul Trynka; The Shaking Woman: or A History of My Nerves (2009, health) by Siri Hustvedt. Yes, concurrently.
I discover so much reading my Winter Classics. The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890, fiction). Oscar Wilde’s adventure into degradation, mayhem, and murder, psychologically not much different than today’s. The language used to tell the story is intense and languid.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Another surprise snow. I am scheduled for work this week so this one is a little more stressful.
- Not having to go anywhere today.
- Getting to see my family for the holiday season.
- Getting to meet the newest member of my family and holding his sweet little nine pound body next to mine.
- A safe journey across the metro area with the car’s trouble light on the whole way. No snow or ice for the journey.
- Sales clerks who take time out of their day to listen to a crankety old lady (moi).
- Finally appreciating that I will never complete a to-do list, as the list constantly evolves.
- Ascending to Level 2 of not getting stuff done. The Let It Go Level.
- It will get done eventually.
- Obtaining a box for 2015’s folders full of invoices yesterday instead of next April.
- Having a week away from work to delve into my Winter Classic reading.
- Dreams and plans for organizing my personal library this year.
- Hearing birds playing in the snow.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch