This is the first Christmas Eve that he hasn’t been here.
For every single one of my 21 Christmases, my family has packed up the car and driven to my Ganny and Granddad’s house for Christmas Eve. Whether it was a two-day drive or a twenty-minute one, we were always there to celebrate. When my Granddad died in October, I knew this night would be especially difficult, but the reality doesn’t hit until certain moments come.
We shed a few (okay, I shed many) tears as my uncle prayed. This is the first Christmas that my Granddad’s strong, but shaky voice hasn’t been the one to thank God for all of the blessings we’ve received over the past year. For me, it was difficult to be thankful when I feel like one of the biggest blessings in my life was taken from this world.
My Ganny made sure to tell us it was okay, even really good, to sit in my Granddad’s chair – where he sat to watch sports, to open presents, to tell us stories, to doze as the days got harder for him to handle. I’d planted myself in his chair for a few minutes as soon as I came in the door, just trying to remember him and his love, trying to see the world from his eyes. My Ganny thanked me for that.
The evening was fun, but still sad. My family shared knowing glances when we knew something in particular triggered a special memory, and I’m sure there will be more of that tomorrow as we celebrate Christmas Day. It’s difficult to talk about this loss with my family, and it’s too easy for me to feel like I can’t talk to them about how sad I am, but it’s the few unspoken moments that create a sense of solidarity between us, and I’m eternally grateful for that.
I know this time is difficult for a lot of people. I was in constant contact with two of my best friends today because both of them have suffered loss this year, too. I know I’m not alone, but each person deals with this extreme grief in a very different way. Me, I’m a little angrier than usual, and I have to apologize more often than I used to. If you’re reading this, and you’re in a place of grief, please know you’re not alone and that you’re going to be okay. Not the same, but okay. I know that words don’t offer the kind of comfort I’d like, but I’m still grateful to those that try.
In this season of peace and joy, it’s okay to not feel those sentiments as deeply as I usually do. I’m thankful for the people who continue to surround me with their love.