It’s the early part of December 2015. I am sunk down into the cushions of my sister’s couch, side-by-side, we are holding hands as we admire her Christmas ornaments in a dimly lit room. The lights twinkle and glow with promise and hope. She confesses, almost whispering, that she is terrified of the coming year. Our grip tightens and we hold onto the moment, sinking deeper into the abyss. I can’t help but remember the panic because the year before her husband died of a stroke on December 25, 2014. My sister passed away of cancer January 2016. I won’t say she battled it because there wasn’t time to even armour up before the war was over. I couldn’t put up a tree or set out a single decoration for 4 years without bursting into tears. So I didn’t try. I still bought gifts for my adult kids but, other than that, I tried to keep Christmas very low-key.Then COVID hit and I had nothing but isolated time to think about connections, relationships and navigating through tough times. Don’t get me wrong, the flood is still there just waiting to burst open. What’s different? I have learned that I need to feel my sister’s joy and childlike enthusiasm for the season. Christmas maybe cancelled in many ways this year, but I will be darned if I am going to shut it down completely. So ,as I watched my neighbours add more and more lights to their yards and get excited about looking forward to something more than a vaccine in 2021, I decided to get into the spirit once again.
Now, I look at my ornaments and blinking lights and I can feel my sister with me. We are snuggled together and once again holding hands and hearts. Such a simple thing and yet it brings me comfort when comfort is all we have to look forward to in times like these.
Merry Christmas to you all. If you are separated from your loved ones, whether they are alive or passed on, I hope you find peace, joy and heartfelt connections.