The thought of my Mom not being a part of Christmas this year is incomprehensible to me. I know that she herself cannot be… But I desperately need for some part of her to be there…
And so she shall.
In about the same place on the tree that Mom always put the sparkly egg-shaped ornament, and the photo of my Grandparent’s home, I have an ornament featuring a photo of Mom, Carolyn, and I together. Every time I look at it I either smile or cry. I smile to see her face right there, and cry to miss it and to see how very little Carolyn was the last time she saw her.
We had these “NOEL Angels” that Mom put up on the grandfather clock each and every year. Daddy and I would rearrange the letters to say, “LEON” each Christmas season, and Mom would switch them back. We’d have this silent little war with the cherubs without saying a word all season long. When we left to come back to Washington last year, I packed them up to bring back with me. Stupid me, I wrapped them in socks and I could only find the ‘O’ and the ‘E.’ I could not have Christmas without the NOEL angels so we found some on Ebay and paid to have them sent here. They’re sitting on our bookshelf.
Last night our church had a ‘service of light and rememberence.’ Husband and I went and lit candles for my Mom and his Dad. It was important for me to go because I needed somehow to affirm in a public way that my Mom had been. That she WAS. That somewhere she still IS. It was a strange service. I was amazed at how quickly I transformed from, “I’m fine. It’s been 17 months now,” to, “God…. I miss my Mommy…..” I cried so much more than I wanted to. I couldn’t stand the silences, and I couldn’t stand reading the words of the litany we read… But they read her name out loud. Her candle was there. And I honored her. At the end of the service, my pastors wife asked me who I’d been most honoring. And I said, “My Mom…. And Husband’s Dad.” And someone knew that they both had been. And that we still hurt.
Christmas Eve we will watch her movies. There will be Miracle on 34th St. during the day, and White Christmas as we fall asleep. Last year I wasn’t up for that… well, and didn’t have time for it since we were on the road to Kansas, and then Misourri, and then home. But this year… with Husband beside me, I can do it. I can watch them. And smile at Natalie Wood, and fall asleep to “You’ll Fall Asleep Counting Your Blessings,” and think of Mom. And of course I’ll laugh when I think about Mom telling the story about her friend Diane quoting Christmas Vacation and saying, “I wanted to watch White Christmas with Bing Crosby, and Danny F—ing Kaye!!!” I can do it. I will do it. I can’t wait to do it.
Christmas morning we will wake up and we will eat Mom’s coffee cake. I couldn’t eat anything else for Christmas morning. I’ll smell it baking, and I’ll read the recipe, and I’ll see her making it at the kitchen of their house.
She’s everywhere…. And it helps so much that this is true. But it hurts so much that at the same time, I can’t just run into her somewhere…. Call her on the phone, or be home… with her and Daddy watching their delight in Carolyn, and in my growing belly.
It won’t be enough. Nothing short of me waking up Christmas Morning and finding out that Lung Cancer was just a bad dream could be enough. But at least it’ll be something.
“Someday soon, we all will be together, If the fates allow…. Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow…. So have yourself, a Merry Little Christmas now.”