Love Never Dies, A Newsletter about the Journey from Loss to Love
Sandy Goodman, Editor
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IN THIS ISSUE
=> From the Editor
=> News and Tidbits
=> Tips and Ideas
=> From our Readers
=> Copyright and Subscribe/Unsubscribe information
FROM THE EDITOR
Finding the Magic . . . Sandy Goodman
Once again, it's that time of year. Halloween is over, Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and Christmas is only a few steps behind. Will this year be different than the last seven? Will I find the magic again? Wait, let me revise that question. Did I ever feel the magic?
As a bereaved parent, I have experienced only two holiday seasons. While I have physically lived through forty-nine hell-a-days, emotionally, there have been only two. The ones before and the ones after Jason's death. The two categories are distinctly different.
If memory serves me correctly, which god knows it doesn't always do, I spent the first forty-two years focused on material issues. What would I get? What did I want? What would make me the happiest child in the whole world? As I grew older and had my own little family, I spent the next twenty-two years asking myself what I would get them. What did they want? What would make them love me more? How would I manage to pay for all of it? I always felt there was something missing...but didn't really have the time or interest to find that missing something. Besides, why borrow trouble? Each year, by the time I realized that something was missing, the decorations were packed in their boxes and the kids had gone back to school. I could always find the magic next year.
In 1996, Jason died. Suddenly, my life ended its forward march and everything I had ever regarded as important became nonsense. My heart was not simply broken, it was ripped into shreds, emptied of what had fueled it over the span of my life. I had no hope of waiting for it to heal and had to face the reality that only a total reconstruction would suffice. I would have to create a new heart . . . from scratch.
That first fall was difficult. I was still numb, still cushioned from reality, but the pain of Jason's death was beginning to seep in. Then it was Halloween and the horror of what had happened was upon me. Thanksgiving came with Christmas on it's tail, bringing an empty chair, an unbroken wishbone, and silence where laughter had once prevailed.
I was sure it could not get any worse, but life always surprises us. The holidays of 1997 and 1998 were devastating. The numbness that had protected me that first season was gone. Reality had arrived and I could not escape it. I would never again see Jason walk through our front door with that grin that always made me nervous, tracking snow across my "freshly waxed for the holidays" floor. I would never again buy two of everything for Jason and his twin brother. I would never again . . .enjoy the holidays . . . or life.
Years four through seven, we bought gifts for needy families, hung Jason's stocking right beside the rest of ours, illuminated special candles to include him in our celebrations, and smiled cheerfully at everyone who offered us their joy filled Merry Christmas. And as I spread my Christmas cheer and good will toward men, I had only one thought in my mind. It became my mantra. "If I can just make it through December, I will be okay." I was no longer focused on the material side of the season. I was no longer focused on the season at all. I wanted it over.
And now, here I am, at year eight. My eighth season of joy, my eighth year of decking the halls, my eighth year of Jason's physical absence. You probably think I am going to tell you that this year will be no different than the last seven. You might even anticipate that I am going to tell you that it never gets better, that there is no such thing as healing, and that grieving parents will always be bitter and angry, especially during the times when families everywhere celebrate the season of giving. Wrong. But don't feel bad, this revelation has totally shocked me also.
A few days ago, on a cold morning in October, I woke up and was amazed to see that it was snowing. Overnight, the world had gone from brown to pure glistening white. It was beautiful. Later that day, I heard someone in my home actually humming Christmas carols. How dare they!? But . . . I was alone. It was me. That evening, I spent an hour printing up a beautiful green and red Christmas "wish list" with graphics! That was the straw that broke the camels back. Suddenly, it hit me. And no matter how guilty I feel in acknowledging it, I have to tell you. I am looking forward to the holidays. Oh . . . my . . . GOD. How can this be? Why is this happening?
Well, after much pondering, I think I know why. I think I spent forty-two holidays looking through a lens that only focused on black and white, on the physical, on that which can be seen and physically felt. The lavishly wrapped gifts, the excessive food, the amount of money spent, and the glittering (sometimes gaudy) lights on the tree. The next seven were spent looking through a lens that was distorted and scarred by grief. I focused on what was missing, rather than on what was still here. I think I wanted it that way.
But now, I feel I've learned how to not only endure, but to enjoy, a memory that can only be defined as bittersweet. I've come to appreciate that feeling emotional is really about feeling impassioned. And I think this year, as the songs start to play on the radio and the cards begin filling our mailbox, I will choose a different lens, a lens that captures that which we cannot see or physically touch. A lens that goes beyond.
Not everything will change. I will still hang Jason's stocking beside ours, buy gifts for the needy, light candles in his memory, and all of the other things that have made the last seven years bearable. But this year, I hope to do these things with joy, rather than with bitterness and sorrow. This year, I want to grasp the hand of a homeless mother, kiss the cheek of a newborn baby, and hold a kitten while it plays in the place where kittens go to dream. I want to watch Santa as he holds wiggly toddlers on his lap. I want to sing Silent Night on a snowy night in mid-December when it feels as if all the world is sleeping. I want to feel the Christmas that we cannot see.
This year, I want to remember who I really am. I want to enjoy the months ahead. Not because I need to or because someone says it's time to, but because, well, because I can. This year, I want to find the magic before it is time to put away the boxes. And I won't stop searching until I find it.
Merry Christmas to you and yours . . .
Believe in magic, and always . . . expect miracles.
Dad, Sandy Goodman
If someone asked me
why I chose you
for my dad,
I'd have to smile
before telling them
that I needed a
One that would shine brightly
on my darkest night.
One that would keep me warm
when the cold surrounded me.
One that would never flicker or dim.
And if someone asked me
if you were that . . .
I would smile again
and tell them
that even now,
now that you've gone,
your light still shines
I love you Dad....
And from a reader, Websites (Grief Support)
NEWS AND TIDBITS
2003 Worldwide Candle Lighting in Memory of All Children
The 2003 Worldwide Candle Lighting will be held on Sunday, December 14. The Worldwide Candle Lighting is held every year on the second Sunday in December, at 7:00 PM in every time zone. As candles burn down in one time zone, they are lighted in the next, creating a 24-hour wave of light that encircles the globe.
TCF invites you to join in this special day of remembrance by lighting a candle wherever you are
— at your TCF chapter's special memorial program
— at a special program in your community
— in your home or wherever you may be at 7 PM on December 14, 2003.
On a blustery day in November, a Crossing Over with John Edward Producer and two camera men (I'm sure they have a nicer title, but I forgot to ask) from Denver, joined Dave and I and our dog, Otis, in our home in Wyoming. We taped for several hours, in our living room, in our front yard, at Jason's Park, and at Jason's Rock. Five minutes of that tape (I'm guessing but I think that's a close guess) will be aired on Crossing Over on December 12th on the syndicated show. The title of this segment is National Children's Memorial Day and you can read about it HERE. Just click on "this week's connections" If you can't find the channel and time for your area, there is a link for a station search also.
My dad passed away on November 22nd. It was the night before he and mom's wedding anniversary (Mom died in 1991) and I think maybe she had waited as patiently as she could for nearly 12 years. Dad had been diagnosed with a tumor in his lung in the spring, and I was extremely worried that he would have to suffer through months and months of pain to get "Home". However, Jason had told me in a reading with Ocallah that I was not to worry, he had it all under control. Dad passed peacefully after one day in the hospital. He was 85 years old, was the best dad anyone could ask for, and I know he is with my mom, Jason, and my brother right now. That thought makes me smile.
TIPS AND IDEAS
It's holiday time. Remember your friends and family who are grieving. Offer to take them shopping, or to go for them. Ask them how they are holding up. Light a candle for their loved one and TELL THEM you did so. Laugh with them, cry with them, be still with them. And most importantly, don't expect ANYTHING of them. They are entitled to do or not do whatever brings them comfort.
Is this your first (or second or third....) holiday season without someone you love? It doesn't matter how many years it has been, if you are feeling hopeless and back in the pit, you are. Period. What helps? Here are some suggestions.
Give something in memory of your loved one.
Buy a special candle and burn it throughout the season
Go ahead and set their place at your table
Create a special centerpiece
Name a star for them at the International Star Registry (1821 Willow Rd., Northfield, IL 60093)
Decorate a small tree with mementos that remind you of them
Put together a photo album or scrapbook and leave it out for company
Decorate a tree in your yard just for your loved one.
Put ALL your family stockings up
Take care of YOU. You don't have to send cards, decorate, bake cookies, go to parties. You only need to breathe. . . and feel the love.
Rather than ponder something, I'm afraid my pondering is not up to par right now, I am going to include an extra poem in the next section. The poem is by Richard Dew and is taken from a Compassionate Friends Newsletter. I hope it will create a quiet place in your heart where you can "ponder" and be alone with yourself for at least a few minutes during the busy days ahead. Some will read this and find only sadness, but if you go deeper, you will find the love that fuels that sadness. Remember that sadness is a feeling, neither good nor bad, and flowing with the energy of it can transform it into something beautiful.
FROM OUR READERS
Our Last Day
"You are more like a friend than a son I'd say"
Couldn't I have thought of something more substantial that day
I watched you drive away
as the sun was setting
This was to be our last day
Would I change what I would say?
I think I will let it end that way
And continue the rest when I pray...
mother of Derek Hays
by Richard Dew
Silent night, holy night..........
"It's about time," he says quietly.
They gather the materials carefully put away last year,
The matches, candle, candle jar
To fend off the harsh winter wind.
Tis the season to be jolly...
Slowly they drive toward the town's edge,
Past homes with bright, blinking bulbs.
Cars of faraway relatives fill their drives.
Happy, laughing families, children home from school,
Pass by on the way to midnight Mass.
It's the most wonderful time of the year...
At last, town lights left far behind, they sit mute,
Each wrapped in private cocoons of memories of Christmas past,
Excited whispers from their room, silly giggles,
Fervent good-night kisses, anticipation of morning.
On a cold winter's night that was so deep...
Through the gate, down the drive, engine killed.
Frozen grass crunching underfoot,
Hand-in-hand they walk up the hill to the familiar moonlit stone.
With practiced hands they brush it clean,
Then prepare their votive Noel.
The world in solemn stillness lay...
Lump in throat, arm-in-arm,
Candle lit, they stand and weep,
But not so bitter as in years past.
The pain's as deep but not so long,
As once again they dream of things that should have been but never were.
The stars in the sky look down where he lay...
"Let's go," he says.
She nods assent.
They leave, though turn back once to see
The lonely flame of their lost child
Gleaming peacefully through the dark.
He whispers softly, his visit done,
"Merry Christmas and good-night, my child."
Sleep in heavenly peace...............Sleep in heavenly peace.
I hope each one of you is able to find a place and a time during the next few days to stop. To stop your running, your obsessing, your worrying, your DOING. If you can do that, I want you to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and ask whoever or whatever it is that you believe is bigger than you for peace. Ask for guidance, ask for love, ask for a clear path to your heart. Ask for what comforts you. Then after a few more breaths, thank the universe and . . .
Merry Christmas to all of you. May you find a moment of silence to fill with hope during this holiday season.
Copyright 2003, All Rights Reserved
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