I had something else all lined for today. I had other plans. But no. Today, I’d like to pretend that we’re sitting across from each other and enjoying venti versions of our favorite coffee shop pleasures.
And since we’re coffee buddies I want to tell you the thing I really need to say rather than the thing I planned on saying.
I really miss my Dad this week, so much. It hurts like a fire in my rib cage that he’s not here for Christmas. It hurts so bad. I keep bursting into hopeless angry tears because I feel like there’s nothing I can do to get what I want. I want my Dad back. I want to call him and make him laugh, tell him all about what the kids are up to, gripe to him about the fact that they’re throwing up, ask him about the broken heater in Kel’s car, give him a hug and smell the combination of smoke and cold that always lingered on his collar.
He should be at my parents house in a flour covered kitchen filling card tables in the garage with one of his 5 signature cookies or baked goods.
He should be filling stockings with the really good deals he got on toothpaste and pens.
He should be putting light up deer in the front yard and imparting his irreplaceable Christmas magic onto my children.
Showing him that there are few greater gifts on Earth than being his kid at Christmastime.
He should be here, for Christmas.
I drove home from the grocery store today weeping, the sort where you should pull over but you don’t because you have to get home.
I pounded gloved fists on the steering wheel like a petulant child because in that moment I wanted something I couldn’t have. I wanted my Daddy back. I wanted to be a kid at Christmas with none of the cold reality of the behind the scenes work of it all.
I went shopping with my Aunt this weekend and as we walked through Kohls she told me this story:
I remember it was the morning after thanksgiving, had to be 3:30 in the morning and there we were all standing in the long checkout line at Kohls. We were so happy, laughing, joking, exchanging coupons with strangers. Your mom would stay in line while your Dad ran to get another color of fleece for your sister or something else he had a deal for. We were having a riot, all of us in line in the middle of the night. It was contagious, strangers started joking around with us… it had to be the Christmas before he died.
I want to go back in time, I want to be in that long line with my Aunts and Uncle and Parents and have a chance to be grown up and all together. I want a different ending to my family’s story because right now Christmas feels so lonely without them.
And you know what? This post doesn’t resolve. Not today.
This is the thing about grief, sometimes you just rest in it and sit for a while with your empty places.
You respect what you lost by acknowledging it with tears and breakdowns during coffee dates and trips to the grocery story.
Sometimes there’s yelling at God, sometimes all the peace you though you’d made with it can’t be found and you’re back to the rhythm of churning and aching.
Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel and Ransom Captive Israel
That Mourns in Lonely Exile here
Until the Son of God appears
If you’re mourning in lonely places I pray grace for you, moments of laughter in the mourning. Feel free to tell me your story in the comments, I’m miles away but I’ll love and listen.
If you have friends who ache for what they cannot have this holiday season check in and be ready to listen to how “not okay” it is. Grief doesn’t resolve and the holidays put unrealized memories into sharp and painful perspective for so many of us. Some years are worse than others, this year for me, coming home and realizing all I lost… it’s been incredibly hard.
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