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Monday, December 15, 2008

Dancing with Grief Plus Nine Months: The Holidays

Saturday marked nine months since the day Jolene took her life. My son called about four times--they brought Jordan home from the hospital, and he was full of updates like "she's had her first car ride" and "we're staying at Mimi's house."

After Mom reminded me of the date--the dreaded 13th--I asked him if he wanted to talk about it. He hesitated, and said "I've given myself permission to stop noting the anniversary."

I wish I could.

This past month I have ridden a roller coaster of grief and despair. My employer's retraction of the week of Christmas leave----when I intended to fly to Oklahoma and spend time with my new grandchild--has ripped open the scabs.

Can I put the feelings into words? I can but try.

We knew about the baby about a month after Jolene's death. Out of death, life; a tremendous gift from God at a time when my heart had broken in a thousand mirror pieces, every one reflecting grief. We made our Christmas plans. When that most dreaded of holidays (for this year) arrived, we would be safe in the arms of family with the rejoicing of new life to sustain us. For eight months, I have said, "At least at Christmas I will get to see the baby." And I could smile and look forward to the future.

Now that hope has been stolen from me. And in an odd sense, I feel as though I have lost Jolene all over again.

And Mom and I are left with the question--what are we going to do for Christmas? I will explore the answers more fully as the day approaches. My main point today is that our coping strategy has been thrown out the window.

I remember Jolene's generosity with every ring of a Salvation Army bell. I stay at home rather than go see the lights which we did every year as the simplest of Christmas traditions. Forget sugar cookies; I cannot bear the sight or smell without Jolene to help me decorate them. Christmas decorations remain in their boxes. How could I stand to touch the purple ball with "Jolene" in gold letters or the delicate ornament marked "baby's first Christmas 1984?"

Next year, I hope I'm brave enough to revisit those memories. But not now. We had intended to form new memories with Jaran's family to add to our memories of Jolene. Now we can't.

Through the time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, I choose to praise God for Emmanuel, God with Us. Otherwise we have no hope.


Mary Connealy said...

I'm praying for you, Darlene. So sorry everything is laced with pain. So, so sorry.

Karen Eve said...

Darlene, I can't even imagine what you're going through. I'm praying for the comfort of the Great Comforter during the holidays. There's no one else who can even begin to provide.
Karen Wevick

♥Sarah♥ said...

My heart breaks for yours. I'm praying for you.

Paula said...

Ooops. One of the kids must have been on the computer before I tried to leave a message. That last email was from me, Paula.

Praying . . .

Lisa Harris said...

My heart goes out to you during this difficult time. Know that many are praying for God's peace to surround you and fill in the empty spaces.

Jan Parrish said...

Where does Jordan live? I can't help but think you would do so much better closer to family. Is it time for a change of pace, and perhaps, change of jobs?

Lynette Sowell said...

I think it out 'n out stinks that you can't go to Oklahoma. I'm praying for extra comfort as you find a way to spend Christmas.