“It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all”
My husband and I walked through the doors of a local grocery store just the other day. He stopped and he pointed out the mini live trees that were standing there and suggested that one of these might be perfect.
I stood there a moment and stared at the little branches before shaking my head and responding…
“We’ll wait til next week. We’ve always waited til after the kids birthdays”
It was a great ploy to pull him away from his inevitable trek through the store with his prized little tree over his shoulder.
I just wasn’t prepared at that moment.
We have two kids in the family with birthdays this month. One is our eldest Megan who celebrates hers tomorrow on December 11th. The other is the youngest son Sam who celebrates his on the 15th.
On December 8th our youngest kissed his ridiculously weepy mum goodbye at the airport to return to live in Edmonton after coming back home for a year. Out of the three of our kids, Sam is the one most like me. A wanderer, a seeker, a “leaver”; he reminded me that I should understand him because we are the same.
The words of my parents rang in my ears..
“Do as I say. Not as I do”
I wanted to tell him he couldn’t go. Pull the mum card out and ground him. He pulled this same stunt on me three years back when he left just a week before Christmas. It’s becoming his holiday theme.
Our grocery excursion took place later that day after I peeled myself off the glass watching him move through customs…his cat Juliette attached to his shoulder as they examined the carrier, he turned and half waved at me laughing at my nose pressed on the glass…
And I just wasn’t ready…
I don’t want the stupid tree right now.
But I will soon. I’ll go out and scoop one up and promise to make its sad little branches perk up. I’ll put it high on a table to make it look less Charlie Brown like and to save it from the jaws of our insane new puppy. Yes I will.
It’s been an incredibly insightful year and a bit for me. A year that began with a loss of a cousin that almost took me down. I was absolutely shocked at how I responded. Sat for hours berating myself for grieving so hard when I knew better.
It’s a year of experiences that have brought me to places in my own heart and soul that I feared to adventure to before. The same places that you go. My clients, my friends and my family. The places that I have always tried to heal for you, I was now being asked to heal for myself.
It’s changed me in the most extraordinary of ways.
I’ve learned what it feels like to accept that I am worthy of love. And in that I have learned how painful it is to let that go.
And in that I have learned to grieve. To understand the process that I have tried to walk so many through on their own experiences.
And it’s changed me.
I have learned that forgiveness doesn’t mean allowing but that forgiveness means releasing yourself enough to accept your own beauty.
But most of all. I’ve learned this…
I’ve learned how to be softer, to be gentler, to understand more of what creates the discomforts of those that reach out to me. I have learned that I can’t fix your pain, but I can commiserate and do my best to bring you through to a place where you feel comfortable if only for a moment.
I have learned that hurt arises from so many places. Not just from physical loss but from loss of career, loss of friendship, loss of warm places to land…
I have learned to listen harder, to understand the reason behind your frustrations and to not try to push you out of it with humor but to allow you to wet your face through your tears.
I have learned to grieve.
I was angry about this. I was not prepared to feel what I thought I had already experienced. I’ve watched a hundred patients die over the years. I had learned to be tough so that you had someone to fall into when your knees buckled.
I was explaining this to a friend recently how annoyed I was that I was feeling things at all. How in heavens name could I do what I do if I felt it so deeply?
That’s like a surgeon developing a sudden fear of blood. What use is that?
I told her how she couldn’t possibly understand how it feels to feel so deeply and to want to wrestle it down and bury it.
Her response rattled the chains that I had used to keep it from breaking free.
“You’re not unique you know”
My first response was fairly vehement let me tell you. Forgive me but my walls went up high as I muttered under my breath
“F*ck you..I’m not unique. I can stand there straight faced while someone goes to a million pieces in front of me and casually hand them a tissue”
I learned how to be unique a long time ago….so bite me. Uh huh.
I’ve had time to dwell on that.
I’m not unique..
I have allowed the sting of loss to finally reach my skin surface.
And now I get it. Like I never got it before.
Now I understand you better than ever before. Now I’ll encourage you to get that tree but I will take your hand and tell you I understand if you don’t.
Now I will not be so cautious in revealing that I understand your discomforts. It started not so long ago now, my sudden wading out into the audience to bring myself closer to you. My sudden need to touch your knees. To get down close and to find your eyes through your tears.
To understand all the years that you pasted a smile and hid what hurt until that moment where I ( with your loved ones help) said the words that broke the dam.
I can now hand you a tissue and honestly say…
I get it.
I don’t want a tree either.
Let’s get one just the same.
Let’s do this wonderful time of the year together.
But if you can’t…
I am looking forward to moving forward. To revealing my real self instead of pulling my shoulders back to brace. To handing a tissue to you and to taking one out for myself.
This will be incredible.
I am grateful to be not unique.
Have yourselves a Merry little Christmas.
In love. In light.