How is it that the first week of December has already flown by? I've been making my lists and checking them twice for quite some time now, and yet there are still things to be done. Yesterday, I spent the day with my mom, which is always nice, and today I spent cleaning bathrooms (not a favorite chore), and making a pile for drop off at the Salvation Army. Now I'm trying to decide whether to go grocery shopping, while I make a Christmas Pinterest board. (Pinterest has trouble letting me upload photos and keep them.) My Christmas letters/cards are in the mail, and most of the gifts are bought, though some still need to arrive. And there are a few small gifts I'm still contemplating. Wrapping has not even begun. It's been so much fun having a girl to buy for this year!
Christmas is a time that brings a lot of joy, but it can also bring much stress and sadness. I will admit, I have both. I have joy in knowing my family will soon be together and I'll get to hug my California guys again! (Never enough hugs in life - especially from my guys!)
But I am sad too, as we celebrate another Christmas without my dad. Last year, it was so close to the date of losing him, that we just sort of got through the holidays in a semi-state of numbness. But this year the grief has been more real.
My tears started one morning over breakfast while I watched a YouTube video of people singing in a mall. The song they ended with was "O Holy Night". And my mind returned to that last conversation I had with my dad the week before he died. (Please indulge my memories and forgive me if I am repeating myself.)
I walked into his room with the sacks from McDonald's, our normal Wednesday fare. My mom and the hospice nurse were at his side, and when I walked in he didn't give me his usual smile. Instead, he seemed quite serious as he said to me,
"Sing, 'Oh Holy Night'."
"You want me to sing 'O Holy Night'?"
It was a strange request for November and even stranger since my dad had never asked me to sing for him. He had listened to me sing plenty of times, but I just don't ever recall a specific request.
The hospice nurse told me she had already turned him down. (Apparently, she did not have a singing voice.)
So I sang the first verse and chorus. He seemed quite satisfied after that and we ate lunch together, though he could no longer eat the foods he loved - he let me feed him their fruity oatmeal instead.
Afterward, he wanted me to stay longer than normal, and I was happy to do so. He closed his eyes, so I began to sing again, some of his favorite hymns. My mom had forgotten Daddy's iPod that day, (he loved his music!), so we made music for him. Mom joined in and on the very last song, "In the Garden", Daddy sort of hummed/sang too.
That was the last day I had with him where he was coherent, as he slipped into a coma that weekend and died the following week. He is spending his second Christmas with Jesus.
I wonder if he is singing "O Holy Night" up there. I cannot hear that song without thinking about my dad.
So it's a happy, joyous, and poignant kind of Christmas this year. I just plain miss my dad! But there are many good things to look forward to! Daddy would have loved our son's fiancé. I am so very blessed.
Just being together and looking into the faces of those I love is what I long for. To do like my dad so often did at a crowded family gathering. He would sit in his chair and just watch everyone else talking around him. (Daddy was a quiet man.) But he wore a smile that spoke of something secret, as though he knew a joy deep down where joy lives. He just loved being together.
Maybe that's where I get it from.