Monday, November 21, 2011

What A Difference A Year Makes

Tomorrow morning my sons have their Thanksgiving pre-school program. A year ago, only my oldest was in pre-school and my parents had just moved to Williamsburg. It was supposed to have been the first of many school programs that my parents were to attend. We were all so looking forward to them being so close. There was an air of excitement that morning as my parents arrived to watch their first grandson performing his songs. Programs like that are never about the music so much as they are about the cuteness and belly laughing that come from watching kids do what kids do.

A year later, things look pretty different. My father won't be able to make the pre-school program. He's not eating well. He's not sleeping well. He's not feeling well. He's alone. His life is radically different than it was a year ago. His love, his life, the woman whom he had been married to for over 40 years is gone and he is trying to put together the pieces of his life and negotiate the rough waters of the holidays for the first time in nearly 50 years without the one person that he has shared life with.

It certainly brings new perspective on the holidays. As we so effortlessly transition from Halloween to Christmas, skipping right past Thanksgiving, it seems a good reminder that few things in life should be glossed over as easily as some holidays have been. Especially significant holidays.

I think we'll make it through. There will be a newness to everything. It will be a season full of firsts. We will do the best that we can. We will cry. We will laugh. We will love. That's exactly what Mom would have wanted us to do. Life is different, she is gone, but we are still here.

In many ways, I feel that I have the advantage in this situation because of my children. With young children, every day is an adventure, a new opportunity, a chance to make memories with them. It is hard for my dad to find that same perspective because so much of his life has been lived. That's not to say that there is nothing left for him, it's just harder for him to find that same perspective given the circumstances in which he finds himself.

Over the past few years, holidays have been so different for me. Being a pastor, I have rarely had the opportunity to spend the Christmas holiday with anyone other than my wife and kids. It's a blessing to have them, but sometimes we long for the company of blood relatives. We love our church family and friends, but life is short and nothing replaces family. I have lived so far away from family for Thanksgivings since 2004 that traveling "home" has not really been an option. So, change has been part of the holidays for me, a part that I have had to embrace and accept.

Yes, a year doesn't seem like much, but it can make a world of difference in our lives. Life looks pretty different now, much different than it did 12 months ago. There will be tears and memories will be recalled during the coming days. There will also be smiles, moments of laughter, and new memories made. The spirit of my mom lives on in me and in her grandchildren as well. We miss her, but one day, we'll celebrate together again. Love and miss you, Mom!

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