Remembered Losses

My birthday and Thanksgiving always open the door to the holiday gloom that begins to build in me. For holidays are traps for those suffering from remembered losses. And I am not a Debbie Downer by any means. I never speak of these things except in my notes, which are read by people who know my history.

After my husband was diagnosed in August of 2000, my birthday was spent in the lawyer’s office, where we went to have our wills done. Later, the year before he died, he went to the ER on my birthday, which sort of ruined that one. And Thanksgiving is just another day for me, one that points up that only 2 of us remain to gather round a table.

Out of this history, though, I have become a writer. A writer that remains true to her feelings, hopefully. The upside of all this is that I appreciate the ordinary more than most people. The autumn leaves glisten in the wind like jewels this morning. And I have nothing to do today but remain relaxed. Too many days and years spent in incredible tension.

I have spent my adult life studying truth and now the door to love is swinging open. The rule is first truth, then love. Once you know the truth that Jesus speaks of, you are free in love. But this is not accomplished readily or quickly. Most of us do not have experiences like St. Paul, rather, it takes time and effort to develop consciousness.

The closer we get to Christmas and the new year, the more solemn I grow. It is in my body, in my cells, these losses of child and mate. I have no control over them except to wait it out. Wait until the days begin to lengthen again, and my optimism return slowly but surely.

My son and I do not “do” the holidays, although it might appear that way. We understand each other’s state of mind and how it is involuntarily tweaked by the seasonal ridiculousness. For all is not calm nor bright in everyone’s life. We live in turbulence; we plow through circumstances we scarcely think we shall survive.

I lay in bed this morning listening to Leonard Cohen’s last album, tears running down my face and onto the pillow. The reprise of “Treaty” is his farewell to this world and his entry into the next. Hallelujah for such a man as he. Hallelujah. For he never avoided the sorrow, just reminded us to say grace over it, to remember where we came from and where we were going. To “steer our way,” as he intoned. And that is all we can do.

Vicki Woodyard

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