When you have a moment of solitude between the end of October and the middle of January, what do you do? What do you think about?
I often see and am guilty myself of hearing and saying, "'Tis the season" this time of year. However, the older I become the more I realize that slowing down and enjoying the "season" should be something we do all year!
I know for me and my household, once Nov. 1 comes on the calendar, my Hubby and I just hold our breath and do not truly enjoy the last 2 months of the year, or even January. We spend those months in anticipation and feeling incredibly anxious and "going through the motions." Let me tell why we have increased anxiety and dread these 3 months of the year.
My angst for the season began 16 years ago when I found myself a divorced, single Mom. I began to dread the holidays as a whole because of having to keep a visitation schedule with my ex-husband. I get her this year for Christmas morning, no you had her last year, what time will you be here because we have plans, it's not your weekend, it is not your time with her it is MINE. If any of you have lived this struggle, you will understand. I was told that I was often too lenient and giving of time and occasions, but, I just had no fight left in me when it came to my ex-husband. When major holidays came, I held my breath and walked on egg shells just waiting for the next argument or yelling at me about how horrible I was for not letting HIM have her, etc.
Then, after my hubby and I married 11 1/2 years ago, we had Holiday schedules, as well. Thanksgiving lunch with my family, leave in a hurry to drop my daughter off to her Father for his family meal, rush to my in-laws to sit and wait for a couple of hours until everything was cooked there, eat and get home. One year Santa coming to the house on Christmas Eve morning, because daughter had to go to Father's home after my family Christmas time Christmas Eve evening. Getting up on Christmas Day, opening presents at our home, rushing to his parents' to wait for them to get out of bed, eat breakfast, have coffee, wait on everyone to arrive to open presents and then wait more for another big meal to be cooked. Meaning, we were NEVER home on Christmas Day to just enjoy the day.
Hubby had 3 children, 2 lived with him and 1 had special needs and due to his work schedule, was cared for by their mother. 2 years into our marriage, we had "our" daughter for Thanksgiving weekend and enjoyed every minute of that time. She was taken back to her Mother on Sunday evening after Thanksgiving. On Monday morning at around 11 A.M., my hubby called me at work and was frantic. Our daughter had experienced a seizure and passed away due to respiratory failure during the seizure. This was Dec. 1, 2009. She was 6 years old and her birthday was Christmas Eve. We celebrated her 7th birthday at her grave. A couple of months after that, I miscarried a baby that at the time of our daughter's death, we did not know I was pregnant.
Fast forward 1 year, I became pregnant and had a healthy baby boy in April of 2011. He was the light of everyone's life! IN August of that year, my Grandfather, 91 years old and one of the most important people in my life, my entire life, passed away. The holidays that year were full of hearts missing the patriarch of the family. His birthday was Dec 9 and he and my Grandmother were married on..........Christmas Eve. That night was always so special for me growing up because it was a gift to me to see them so much in love and what kinds of things he would by my Grandmother for their anniversary.
Fast forward 2 more years to 2013. Halloween came and went, Thanksgiving as well. Dec. 11, 2013, my Father-in-Law was diagnosed with bone cancer. He had been feeling ill, but thought it was the flu and pulled neck muscles from driving a concrete truck for work. Dec. 21, 2013 after my Hubby, Daughter and I left his hospital room, he passed away. So, you can probably guess what we did Christmas of that year. Yes, visitation on Dec. 23 and funeral/burial on Christmas Eve, no doubt (my Grandparent's anniversary, youngest daughter's birthday) and now, the day we buried my hubby's Father.
Stay with me, fast forward 2 years again to 2015, fall 2015. My Daddy was diagnosed with cancer. He began chemotherapy for a full cycle. Chemotherapy had not helped. Christmas was different that year because Daddy was not feeling well at all. The week after Christmas, he went in for follow-up scans and tests. I was at my parents' house Dec. 27 and Daddy looked at me and said, "If the scans show it has spread, I am not doing radiation or another round of chemo. Is that okay with you?"
You can imagine what I was feeling and thinking. Inside my head, I was screaming, "NO! NO! That is NOT okay with me, Daddy!" So, my actual response was, "Daddy, the Daughter side of me is not okay with that, but the spiritual side of me is okay with it." January 2 was my Daddy's birthday. The following Monday, January 5, I was at my parents' again just visiting and the phone rang. It was the oncologist with results of the scans.......Cancer had spread and it had spread to his brain. I literally lost it. Tuesday, hospice came in and met with my parent's, ordered a bed, gave Mom and I instructions on his medications, what to do, who to call, etc. Daddy told the social worker AND the nurse at that meeting, "I do NOT want to die here in this house. Not at home, where my wife will be. Absolutely NOT!"
Wednesday, January 6, I spent time with him lying across my parents' bed, just talking. He was himself, my Daddy. He said, "I want to tell you something important." I giggled and said, "Now Daddy, I KNOW I am your favorite child, you don't have to tell me!" We laughed, because I had saved my number in his and Mom's phones as "Favorite Child" years before!!!!! He said, "Well, of course, you are! But, that is not what I wanted to tell you." He continued, "I am so proud of you and of how incredibly strong you are in the Lord. I wish your sister and brother had the same kind of fire and relationship for and with the Lord as you do." We talked about a lot of things that day.
Thursday, January 7, I walked over to my parents' house that morning and when I went to where my Daddy was lying in the hospital bed, he was not making much sense with what he was saying. He did look at me and say, "I have a job in Jericho and there are propellers all around." I just said, Well, Daddy that is great. I know you will do well at your job." He needed help getting to the bathroom and he didn't remember our eldest son (Hubby's Son) when he came to visit.
I came home and in a few minutes, Mom called and asked that I come back over because Daddy was irritated and being a bit combative with her. I ran over, walked in and he calmed down. I helped get him to the bathroom and back in bed again, left to get some things done at home. Mom called and asked me to come again because he was being combative with her again.
I ran over, went back to their room and firmly said, "Now Daddy! You have to be kind to Momma! I have to get some things done before the kids get home from school and you need to be nice!" That seemed to work, for longer than 2 or 3 minutes. That night, my Sister decided she would come stay to allow Mom to get some rest and tend to Daddy. Friday morning, around 5 a.m. she calls me and says, "Would you please talk to Dad? He has been so combative all night long and I cannot get him to calm down." She put me on speaker phone and I said, "Daddy? What is wrong? I cannot come over there just yet because the kids are asleep. As soon as I get them on the bus and off to school, I will be right over to see you. Please calm down and I will be there soon."
Sister took me off speaker and said the second he heard my voice, he calmed down immediately. That day brought more downhill health. Mom called Hospice nurse and social worker to come for a meeting Friday evening. At that point, his breathing was abnormal, his color was not at all right and he had stopped talking, mumbling, reacting to anything. What was the response from Hospice? "His vital signs are good, there is nothing we can do. All of our respite beds for the weekend are full."
I said, "This is NOT my Dad and he specifically told you both on Tuesday he did NOT want to pass away here at home. Find a respite bed for him." They left with the notion and "noting" his vital signs were normal and he was stable, ordered us bilingual medications to administer to him and said to NOT call 911 for an ambulance, but to call the nurse on call for the weekend should anything happen.
The next day, brought more of the same, except no combativeness, no movement and us providing full on care. That evening, around 8:30 p.m. my Mom calls crying and yelling, "You and Tim get over here now! Come NOW!" We take off running across the street, to find my Mom crying, my sister crying and both of them yelling at us to turn Daddy over to his side because he aspirated some of his liquid medication. We get him rolled over and his coughing stops. I sit on the bed beside him, Sister still crying and upset, Mom on her bed upset. I am holding Daddy's hand, stroking his hair, praying for God to heal him and I knew exactly what I was praying for, even though I did NOT want to lose my Dad. I turned to Mom and asked her if she had told him that it would be okay for him to go home. She said, "No, I haven't." I said, "Momma, that is what he is waiting for. He is waiting to hear from you that he can go home." She came over, kissed him on the forehead and told him she loved him and it was okay.
She returned to their bed, standing, crying, watching. I was still holding his hand and kissed his head and said, "Daddy, we will take care of Momma. She will be okay, we will be okay. It is okay, go home and be healed." At that moment, my Daddy drew his last breath, while holding my hand.
So sorry, that experience took a while! Fast forward 1&1/2 years, AGAIN, to Nov. 2016. My grandmother had been in and out of hospital, in patient rehab, home health PT and nursing, etc for many months. The week of Nov. 20th, Meme was not eating, telling us about family members who were visiting (who had been dead for decades) and how she just wanted her kids. I stayed 3 nights, all night, awake keeping an eye on her. Wednesday morning, November 23, my mom called me as soon as bus had come to pick up youngest child for school. She told me to get over there, now! I ran over, walked down the hall and could see my Mom crying, shaking her head and told me to get where she was. The lady who had been siting with her and helping us was there on the other side. I stroked her hair, held her hand and said, "Go on Meme, go on and be with Poppy. I love you! We love you!" Like deja'vous, at that moment, she drew her last breath. THE.DAY.BEFORE.THANKSGIVING!!!!!!!!!!!
I am sure you can imagine what that whole holiday season was like for me and my family.
I always have to remember that each and every one of these events are a natural part of life. Some were sudden and unexpected, some were answered prayers of healing, though not what I wanted, perfect healing and answered prayers.
I just wanted to share with you some "Coffee Beans and Grace Nuggets" surrounding this time of year. Sometimes, we need to stop, slow down, enjoy the people around us without rushing from one get together or family function to another.
It is TOTALLY okay to JUST BE. Just BE at home, doing your own thing with your immediate family/friends, enjoying games. laughter, baking, whatever it is. Remember, though, 'Tis the Season is not the same thing to everyone.
As much as we LOVE Christmas, the decorating, the goodies, the smells, the memories made, we need to remember WHY! WHY do we even celebrate this 'season.' It is ALL because TRUE LOVE WAS BORN IN A STABLE and came to die for each and everyone of us, sinners, imperfect humans, so that we may live eternally with Him and God the Father. To live eternally, with no tears, no hurting, no more loss, no physical ailments, no developmental, emotional or ant kind of disabilities. Only to live eternally, with our Beloved Father and Creator who sent His only Son, so that whoever believes in Jesus Christ, His life, death and resurrection, will never perish but have everlasting life!
That is the reason to celebrate not just this "season." But, EVERY season of the year, of our lives and of those we love!
May God bless each of you reading this! MERRY CHRISTMAS! Prayers for a safe Christmas and New Year. May 2020 bring you closer to God, experiences of His abundant blessing upon your life and memories that will last!
Daughter, Sister, Wife, Momma, Friend, Warrior Princess, Sold out follower of Christ. There is more to me than meets the eye. A beautifully broken, messy, loving, imperfect woman praying to inspire others to find the JOY in this Joy-ney we call life!