On your first Christmas without her
Last week I rummaged up one of my old driving compilation CDs. Most of the music on the disc was from 2009 and 2010, but there was at least one song a little older than that.
I choked up a little to the beginning notes of Melissa Etheridge’s “I Take You With Me.” I’d been introduced to the song by 1995′s Boys on the Side.
“This is a beautiful song,” I told my four-year-old son, “but it’s a little sad.”
“Why’s it sad?” he asked.
“Well, to me . . . it means that sometimes you get to be with the people you love in person, and sometimes you just have to know you carry them with you in your heart. You, for example, are always in my heart.”
“And you’re in mine!” he cheered.
“That’s right. Because we love each other so much now, little pieces of that love will be with us forever, so that we’re always together, even when our bodies are apart.”
I thought about that exchange after I dropped him off at preschool a few minutes later. This is my fourth Christmas without my mom. The first was especially brutal, as I thought about all the things my mom was missing that day and all the things she would miss forevermore.
In the years since, it’s gotten easier for me to feel my mom is with me, even though I can’t call her on the phone. But this year, I remember that first year as I think of my friend Chris, who lost his mother earlier this year and is navigating his first Christmas without her.
I’m thinking of him, his mom, and his family, and sending both love and wishes for some joy this Christmas. Some will say, “She’s in heaven now” or “She’s no longer suffering” in an effort to bring him peace, but only time and feeling each and every feeling as it comes can bring that.
So instead of saying, “She is at peace,” I say to Chris:
May you eventually find the peace of knowing that you take her with you, and give her a light in this world as long as you are here.
May her memory be a blessing, as is your presence in my life.
If this is your first Christmas without someone you love, I hope you will find some sustenance in sweet memories, and in the prospect of many sweet memories yet to be made with those who remain.