Coping With Loss During the Holiday Season
It has still been less than a year since we started the O~Deer Website and a very hectic seven months since we opened the just-starting-to-take-off O Deer Mercantile Etsy Shop. I had grand plans for our first holiday season in this still new online home, and even with my inclinations toward procrastination and overextending myself, every confidence that we could realize at least a good percentage of those plans and features. Gaia, Kaylah and I had made definite progress in deciding the direction we wanted our enterprise to take, in organizing a little better, structuring our time, and keeping the lines of communication open between us.
Best Laid Plans
If I have learned nothing else in six decades of life, it would seem that by now I should realize that the Universe does not heed either our plans or wishes. Life is not only a great mystery, it is only under our own control in the Illusion we create for ourselves in our own minds. Even that threadbare rug gets hauled from beneath our feet on a regular basis. Not to dwell on our personal drama and tragedy, but as explanation of less than attentive upkeep of blog or shop, I will say that for us, as for many others, this was a trying year. My father began feeling unwell last spring and then fell gravely ill during the summer. There were two extended hospital stays, including surgical procedures which seemed successful at the time and then a hospital contracted infection. This stretched into the fall, with much of my time spent at the hospital or my Dad’s home, and the rest not really focused on the tasks at hand. Shortly after the second hospital stay we found out that our 81 year old Father/Grandfather/Great Grandfather had terminal cancer. It was not his first rodeo. He had survived earlier diagnosis’ of the disease, but this time there was no treatment.
My father did not linger for too long. He put his affairs in order, and then seemingly attended to the task at hand. He was a man who had an incredibly strong will, and once he accepted his fate, he went very quickly. I was called out of bed just after midnight of December the ninth to come and say Goodbye. He passed almost peacefully an hour later. Our heartfelt thanks are extended to Halifax Health Hospice Care. These fine people made it possible for us to keep our father at home where he wanted to be during those final weeks, and eased his passing, as well as being of immeasurable service afterward.
When someone you love dies, it does not matter that you knew it was coming, that you have had time to say your goodbyes and speak of the great love and respect you hold in your heart— it leaves you reeling in shock. There is, I think, no way to prepare yourself for the emotional onslaught that accompanies such a traumatic event. Instead of Christmas shopping or attending an early holiday party, we were at a funeral home, celebrating a life well lived, but also mourning the passing of a beloved family member on the second weekend of December. My Dad was a lifelong resident of this area, a business owner who was well-known throughout Central Florida, and Patriarch of a large family that included four daughters, eleven grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. The Memorial Service was standing-room-only and well-wishers kept the funeral home’s parking lot overflowing all afternoon.
We have all carried on through the Christmas season as best we can, but there is a large empty space in our lives, so nothing has been without that bittersweet pain that comes from terribly missing someone.
O Deer We Still Love Christmas
Somehow, in spite of the sadness, we have managed to find spaces in which to discover Joy this Christmas. I never quite had the energy and time to put up outdoor lights this year, but I literally needed the house to feel filled with the Magic that I always experience at Christmas. After the Memorial Service, I shut down for awhile. I was too emotionally drained and lost to do much of anything, but a time came when I knew I just needed to get up and start moving again. The holiday shopping got finished, cookies, fudge and brittle made and stowed in my collection of Santa Claus tins, and the house was full of all the little touches that resonate with the season.
This was just a small glimpse of all the things that make Christmas Christmas for me. Some are old and some are fairly new— much of what we display is vintage or found at thrift shops and tag sales. Even the decorations we exchange every year are often found at second-hand shops. I think that you can often feel the love and delight of previous owners in these Christmas mementos.
I am leaving you today with a glimpse of my Christmas morning and the silent magic that enfolds it. I have for time out of mind risen before dawn on most Christmas’ days and spent those early hours in the quiet contemplation that somehow always manages to refill my heart, to help prepare me to look forward to yet another year..
The Healing has begun—We are half way out of the dark. Hope your year ends with bounteous blessings,