It’s been about 18 months since mom died. Last Christmas, I had just moved to Texas and was so busy getting everything in order that I didn’t really have time to stop and think about mom. This year I’ve got nothing but time on my hands and it shows. In the last couple of weeks, there have been minor crying spells here and there, but a few nights ago I had a major breakdown.
I was on the way to the mall and started to think about one Christmas in particular. I don’t even remember when it was, but I remember what I got. Money had been tight for mom for a long time, but she really wanted to give me something for Christmas. I can remember my thoughts when I opened her present. It was some kind of Christmas poem that she had photocopied and then put in a black and gold picture frame from the dollar store. I remembered how ugly I thought it was. I was kind of embarrassed that this was all she could afford. I might have even been ashamed. I politely smiled and thanked her for the gift, but when I got home, it got shoved to the corner or put in a drawer. I’m pretty sure that over the years and throughout several moves, I eventually threw it away and forgot about it.
It was the first time I’ve thought about that gift since the day I received it. And yesterday I was struck with the desire to give up everything I own to be able to have it back. Not because it was a great present. But because it was a part of who mom was. It was a symbol of her giving and loving nature. There were many Christmases when she couldn’t afford Christmas presents for us and many Christmases she was ashamed because of it. But we all still got together at her house where she would have enough food for three armies and we would spend time together. We kids were her pride and joy and she was never happier than when we were all at home.
But now mom’s gone and I can never have her or that present back. There are so many things I wish I could go back and do over. I wish I wouldn’t have been so dismissive of her at times. I wish I could take back all the times I was embarrassed of her. I wish I would have made an effort to visit her more often after I moved to Chicago. I wish I would have called her more often. I wish, I wish, I wish. But I can’t change any of that and I’m left with a bag heaping with regrets. I know that one day, I’ll have dealt with these regrets. I know that one day, the sting of losing mom won’t be as potent. But today is not that day.
As you go about your holidays, please keep in mind that people you interact with may not be in the holiday spirit because of a tragic loss, financial trouble, depression, or some other roadblock preventing them from fully celebrating the season. Let me reassure you that they aren’t looking for you to fix the problem. Most of the time, they just need an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a kind word, or a friendly face.
I came across an article that has some very good information that might be helpful if you have someone in your life who has experienced a tragic loss.
Lastly, if you are troubled enough that you are considering taking your life, please, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat with them online. You are not alone.
I pray that as we all go into the Christmas season, we can show each other grace and be peacemakers in the world around us.