Well, as expected, Christmas was hard. But, as has been the case with a lot of things since you died, the anticipation of event was worse than the event itself. I have spent so much time dreading December 25th, but by the time it actually rolled around, it wasn't quite as horrible as I had imagined it might be. I'm convinced there is only one reason for that: the wonderful people in my life.
I was so afraid that no one was going to remember you this Christmas, but boy was I wrong. There were cards, there were letters, and there were all these beautiful ornaments, which each made spending Christmas without you just a tiny bit easier:
From Amanda and Stephanie (this one opens up like a locket, and your name is engraved inside)
From Grandma Cook (Dad's mom)
From Vicki (Kara's mom)
As we were driving home on Christmas Day night, I was staring out the window into the dark, the lights from the passing cars all a blur through silent tears, when John Mayer's 'The Heart of Life' starting playing. I hadn't heard the song in years, but my iPod was set on shuffle, and it could not have picked a better song for me to hear in that moment. Here are some of the lyrics:
I hate to see you cry
Lying there in that position
There's things you need to hear
So turn off your tears
Pain throws your heart to the ground
Love turns the whole thing around
No it won't all go the way it should
But I know the heart of life is good
Isn't it the truth? In the midst of unimaginable pain, there's unfathomable love. Love that has the power to pick us up off the ground and get us through things we'd never thought we'd have the strength to survive.
The cards, letters, and gifts in the mail from loved ones and strangers alike. The text Christmas morning from a best friend simply saying, 'I'm thinking of you today. I love you.' The mother-in-law who hung up a little stocking, just for you in her home. The mom who told me, in a typed-up letter, how badly she wished there was a present she could buy me that would bring me back my joy. The dad who picked out sushi, and hummus, and peach salsa, and all the rest of my favorite foods for our Christmas Eve feast.
These are the things that convince me that life, deep down, underneath all the pain and sadness and sorrow, is good.
I know it's good.
PS. As I logged into Blogger to type up this post, a strange thing happened: I saw my dear friend, Tiffany, wrote a post about the same song earlier today! I love how this random song from four years ago has touched us both, and at the same time. If you haven't already, you really must read her story and follow her blog. Tiffany's four-month-old son, Julius (a little boy with the biggest smile I've ever seen), passed away from SIDS in October, and her honesty, grace, and strength are incredibly inspiring. Xoxo