I learned recently of the very sudden unexpected death of a former work colleague’s husband, a man full of life and vigour. Early 50s and he and his wife, my friend, were just embarking on the children grown up and away, next phase of their lives. A new home, a full new life ahead of them both. And now suddenly not. A new life ahead for her and not one she would have ever imagined.
My heart goes out to her on the eve of the funeral, saying farewell to someone she saw herself having so many years ahead with. A space now in her life, huge, gaping. I feel for her pain tomorrow and the days, weeks and months ahead and for her two children. We’re never old enough to lose a parent.
To lose someone at this time of year where every magazine, radio or tv show are in full festivity mode is even tougher. Though always unbearable whatever time of year.
I held my partner tight when I heard the news. Who knows how long we have but I am reminded to savour each moment as if it could be our last, to make it a good contributing loving life full of everyday kindnesses and generosity to each other. To never regret last words being harsh or things left unsaid. To have love be what we remember most.
A bit of twinkle and glitter in this festive shop display…. Not sure it really worked!
Christmas approaches. Wild purchasing everywhere. Shops competing with bigger and bigger discounts and price matching. Harassed looking parents with bulging supermarket trolleys and reluctant children in tow. A sense of desperation almost in the air. Will we get it all done in time?
So there’s all of that. And there’s also all around me people talking fondly of family time over Christmas, the board games dusted down from the year before, giggling at the stories that get remembered every Christmas, watching favourite old movies and laughing or shedding a tear in the same places. Lovely to hear people at work talking about this time with young families or the first Christmas their grown up children will be coming home for the celebrations.
Others are planning to help out at the various homeless charities to make a contribution. While others again just ignoring the whole thing.
For us it’s part of a family coming together to make this as good a first Christmas after my mother’s death as we can for our father. Going somewhere different, a country cottage, board games, Christmas pudding, a decorated tree and a visit to the nearby church for some. The first of a new way to celebrate Christmas and be a family.
Mum never was a great fan of Christmas though she liked having her family about her. I remember her making mince pies while listening to Kings College Cambridge choirs singing carols on the radio. The aroma soon filling the house. The first bite while one was still warm. Unforgettable. I can almost smell and taste it now.
We will remember her this first Christmas without her and think of others who will be missing people they love too. It’s a tough time for many. And as Dad lights the indoor fireworks, an old indulgence of his, we’ll remember mum’s disgust at the annual smelly event and her loud sighed “Oh Timothy… Must you?” .
We’ll be looking back fondly and missing mum. Yet we will also be building our new way of spending Christmas, different bits of the family, new memories, new stories with our father. Precious times.
Wishing you all well over this holiday time whatever it means for you.
I’ve spent today with my 84 year old father. There’s nowhere else I’d rather have been.
It’s still only November but the last weekend I am down to stay before the Christmas away my youngest sister and I have organised for us, something different for this first Christmas without our mum, his wife.
Armed with his carefully crafted list we braved the busy town centre, my dad holding my arm. Some while later we made it back to the car with armfuls of bags and a huge sense of achievement. Mission accomplished.
Then later after a treat of lunch overlooking the water and an essential post lunch snooze, some hours happily spent together with paper, ribbons and labels wrapping gifts and sharing memories and stories and tea and mince pies. Priceless. Moments to treasure. Always.