Here we are, rounding the corner on two years since we lost my father. It’s funny, my family – we keep trying to remember bits of last Christmas.
One of the few things I remember is that Karen wore an elf suit to Christmas dinner (bless her heart), because she said everyone needed some Christmas spirit.
(It is impossible not to love that woman.)
The first set of holidays after you lose someone, from what I gather, is always the most difficult. (I mean…duh). Last year, as far as Christmas went, we just wanted to get through it.
Quick and dirty.
For while we were all still grieving my dad, and the first holiday without him (not to mention the anniversary of his passing), my mother was in the full throes of chemotherapy.
Alexis called it, “A Very Cancer Christmas”.
Whatever, you guys. Sometimes if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. I guess we’ve done our fair share of both.
So here we are, approaching Christmas #2 sans “Papa”. I won’t hold you in suspense…it isn’t any easier. Not really.
I should tell you, things for me have been good…so good. The girls (now 9 and 12) are great. My mother is healthy. Work feels fulfilling. I feel healthy, having lost the 15 pounds of grief-weight I gained last year. After having rented for the five years since my divorce, I recently bought my first house. That feels amazing, and the girls and I are so in love with the new house. It could not be more perfectly us.
We have so much for which to be grateful…and we are. I am. So grateful.
For the past few weeks, I have felt on the edge. I am so quick to well up with sadness…over a song, or a memory. I miss him. I have also been feeling the grief of others – those who have lost loved ones this year, so heavily.
I carry it all with me.
I thought to myself earlier today, it’s as if I have a thinner skin now. It’s as if at any moment, my thin skin threatens to spill my very essence all over the floor…revealing the most raw and unapologetic parts of me.
My skin is barely containing me.
The good news is…the thin skin keeps all of the good stuff right at the surface too. The joy and the gratitude, those are aching to burst forth as well.
I am feeling everything with intensity. Every emotion courses through me, filling me up until it has nowhere to go but to leak from my eyes.
This evening I found myself sitting by a fire in my beautiful new house, reading a book, and enjoying a glass of wine. My two most favorite little ladies sat beside me – one drawing, one reading. I suddenly felt overwhelmed. This is too good, I thought to myself.
This is a perfect moment. How did I get so lucky?
Lately, I have been having dreams about a young mother who lost her battle with ovarian cancer just a few weeks ago. I did not know her well…hardly at all, really. When I first met her, she had just begun her battle with stage 4 cancer. She was already terminal. Yet she seemed more full of life than most.
It’s the kind of perversely glaring contrast that sticks with you.
Honestly, I can’t make much sense of the dreams…but I feel as though I am seeing her, repeatedly, for a reason. If I had to guess, I’d say she has come to remind me. To remind me that it is okay to feel it all.
To feel BIG and to love BIG…
Even, or especially, when I am feeling so much that my skin can barely contain me.
Because I am here.
I have the privilege of being here,
In my thin skin,
Feeling it all.