Here it is, Christmas eve and for the first time ever I am not with my family. I had to work tonight so I am sitting on my blow-up bed in a livingroom without a single Christmas decoration. No Christmas music playing softly in the background, no snow falling, no nuthin’.
Is this what happens when we get older, we lose the joy of the Holiday spirit? Or when you have no one to celebrate with, do you think, “Why bother?” Or do you suppose some folks just never really enjoyed this time of year?
Tonight while I am waiting for sleep to come, I will revisit past Christmas’s. Once again I will be in the company of those who I have loved who have left this earth for places unknown. I will feel my grandmother’s love, see my sweet great aunt sitting quietly but happy just to be around family, I will see cousins and aunts and uncles many whom I have no seen in decades. We will all be gathered together, unaware of the losses to come, enjoying the day. I will try not to think of the pain that often accompanied those gatherings. I will push back those memories to the place where I try to keep them hidden. I’m sure many of you know those demons, too. Yes, tonight there will some silent tears shed. Tears for those who made my Holidays great and tears for those who had demons of their own.
But tomorrow will be different. I will be with those who mean the most to me and there will only be happiness. New memories to be made without any demons. There will be no pain that walks hand-in-hand with this happiness. There will be music and decorations and maybe even a bit of snow. I am so grateful for these tomorrows.
As everyone else in this country, I am trying to make some sense out of the shooting last Friday. But there really will never be any sense to what happened.
So how do we go on? I was supposed to go to a Christmas party on Friday night but after spending the entire afternoon glued to Fox news and crying, how could I go and have fun? It felt wrong. How could I laugh and enjoy myself when so many lives were changed that day? It felt like I would be dishonoring those babies and teachers who died. I should be mourning their deaths, not playing games and singing carols. So I chose to stay home.
What is the “etiquette” of behavior when something like this happens? Do we just do business as usual or are we called to take time to mourn these lives that were taken? The fact that such young children were killed has a greater impact on us, I think. I wasn’t so affected when those college kids were killed or when a bunch of adults are killed. Is it human nature to care more about those little lives? Or is it just me?
So when do I get back to my normal life? When do I start enjoying this Holiday season without guilt? Can I really watch my grandbabies open their gifts on Christmas and not be thinking the whole time of the tens of grandparents who won’t be holding their grandbabies this year? Is it OK to be happy?
Is anyone else struggling with this? I’m afraid the gunman has stolen so much more than those precious lives. Not only him but all the madmen who kill in churches and malls and hair salons and fast food joints. Places that only brought pleasure now bring fear.
I weep for the lives that were taken. I weep for the families. I weep for the communities. I weep for this country. I weep for us all.