I think I’m ready. I love my friends. I want to spend time with them. And so I accept the invitation for Christmas dinner with my dear friend and her family. Dinner will be served at 3:00, so I arrive at 2:30.
Oops, I didn’t get the update that dinner is now scheduled for 5:00, but that’s ok. I’m welcomed with open arms.
Oops, they are still opening gifts, but that’s ok. There is even one for me under the tree. I feel the joy, I feel the love that surrounds me. But I also feel the sadness of a lost hope just underneath the surface of my smiles.
Oops, one tag says “From Uncle Josh,” but that’s ok. It’s not really a family secret that a new baby is on the way! I hug the new mom with delight and congratulate my dear friend. We share tears that she will be a grandma soon! I see the happy faces, I hear the cheerful banter all around me. But I also feel the stab of sorrow that I will never hear the words “grandma” spoken in reference to me.
Oops, dinner is nowhere near ready, but that’s ok. Several of us gather in the kitchen and work together to prepare all the fixings for the holiday meal. The once little girl at the sink is now an adult young woman, home for the holidays. She updates me on her life, her job, her new apartment, as she makes deviled eggs, and I slice strawberries. She shakes her head and exclaims how unreal it is that she and her friends now talk about adult decisions, health insurance, and car payments. I feel my heart swell with pride. But I also feel the reality of time marching on…she is now Tony’s age, instead of the little girl and young teenager he knew.
Oops, we are all gathered around the table and we need more chairs, but that’s ok. The guys quickly gather two or three chairs, and we enjoy the glorious bounty! I eat and eat and eat turkey, and green beans, and stuffing, and macaroni and cheese, and yeast rolls, and deviled eggs, and corn, and wine, and champagne, and ice cream, and brownies, and strawberry shortcake, and whipped cream. I eat with the wild abandon that only comes from stomping down the sadness, comforting the stomach since the heart cannot be consoled.
Oops, we settle in to watch a movie in the entertainment room and no one can find the DVD we’d been talking about over dinner, but that’s ok. We select an on-demand, feel-good movie that is positive and lighthearted. And I continue to eat and eat and eat chips and salsa and chex mix and cheese dip and crackers and more wine. I eat with the wild abandon that only comes from numbing the feelings, coping in the destructive way that has become my norm on this grief journey.
I thought I was ready. Although I love my friends and rejoice in the good things that are happening in their lives, my soul needs more comfort than I know how to provide. I patch the tears in my heart and soul with food.
Oops, but that’s ok. Today is a new day.