As we slowly drove by house after house decked out in twinkling, colorful icicle lights with vibrant displays of holiday spirit and jolly elves and fat Santas adorning their landscaped lawns, I couldn’t help but think of my mama and miss her with an intense yearning. Christmas was her favorite holiday and it was made apparent every year by the excess of ornaments upon a stout Christmas tree and dozens of hand painted Santas embellishing her chimney mantle. But tonight, I managed to silently relieve myself with the peaceful thought that she was there with me, in my heart and in the spirit of this magical holiday, enjoying all of the pretty lights with us.
This is the third Christmas without my dear mama and I don’t know if it ever really “gets easier” or if “time heals all wounds.” I think one simply learns how to find and experience joy elsewhere, focus on the positive. I could dwell on all of the loss and the void in my life, especially the fact that this is the first Christmas and my birthday without David but I would be doing an injustice to all that I am blessed with.
Last Christmas, David and I were busily building our own traditions which included opening gifts at precisely midnight and cooking a seafood pasta for dinner, staying true to our Italian roots. After a brisk, afternoon walk through Prospect Park, we spent a quiet evening at home in our Brooklyn apartment watching Christmas flicks and lazing around in our pajamas.
This particular Christmas Eve, I found myself in the company of wonderful friends with bellies full of delicious food, a room full of laughter and most importantly, a love and appreciation for those we hold near to our hearts. As alone as I might feel at times, it’s blissful moments like these that make me realize that I am never alone.
As my friends and I continued down the mountain in the beautiful Upper Hastings Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles, marveling at the myriad of Christmas lights decorating each house in brilliant color, my heart was abundant with this love and appreciation. I reflected on all of the changes, large and small, that have taken place in my life this past year and all I could feel was gratitude – an immense, gratitude for the present moment.
We stared, wide-eyed at the great city of Los Angeles, shining with energetic life, sprawled out in front us and I acknowledged vast appreciation for the place I call home and for the people that make up what I deem as my family. While I have lost a lot, I have also gained so much more. I realize I am exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment and that all whom I have loved and lost has not been in vain. That awe-inspiring scenery brought to mind a card I came across days after David and I decided to separate. It poignantly read, “Where there is loss there is always an even greater presence of love.” It is currently in a frame, displayed in my home.
I am grateful for the short but amazing twenty-six years of my life spent with my mother – the woman who taught me the meaning and the quality of unconditional love. I am thankful for the three years that I spent giving that kind of love to David. I’m even thankful for those that came before David as I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without those experiences. Finally, I am hopeful that my love meant as much to those friends and lovers who are no longer a part of my life as much as it meant to me – that there was something to be gained all around. I hope that they, too, learned and grew from our experience together or eventually will.
Again, this brings me back to that nuisance of a statement, “nothing lasts forever.” The more I reflect on this, though, the more I can readily accept that perhaps I am meant to be a part of someone’s life for only a period of time and vice versa. I am comforted by the knowledge that that period of time is no less valuable than if we were a part of each other’s lives forever.