The day after Christmas is my very least favorite day of every year. Regardless of whether or not I have to work (and I do this year), the day just feels like a drag. All of the merry-making has come to a close and the decorations and leftover sugar cookies feel suffocating rather than inviting. Perhaps because I'm pregnant and I'm officially ready to get everything in order for Jake, I'm especially ready to usher out the holly this year.
Yesterday was....okay. Christmas day itself always seems to be a bit anticlimactic. It was full of wonder and sweet memories - especially with Tommy. Yet it left me longing for more too - for more meaningful and reflective times. I seem to always miss what isn't there. I was feeling lousy too seeing as I'm in now for round three of this awful congestion and cough thing that has been with me now for a good chunk of my pregnancy.
There are a few days at the very end of the year though that bring with it this great shift within my spirit. December 28th is the anniversary of my mom's death and it's something that I have always felt with great depth. My soul feels sad and unsettled and it was last year that I recognized that this great dark cloud, this shifting, comes not on her death date or the day after Christmas....but on Christmas day itself.
Last year was the first year that I really took care of myself in this familiar darkness that I find myself in every year. Instead of eating and numbing out to my pain though I let myself cry. I watched a sad movie and took a long bath and I wrote some. I made myself a mug of hot coffee and I let myself sit in quiet and feel and just be. In addition to that, I accepted an invitation by my step-mom last year to go over and sit with her and we ended up having the most honest, healing conversation we've ever had in all of the years of knowing each other.
Grief remains the same. The loss of my mother and all that we didn't have when she was alive and all of the memories that never will be, they weigh heaviest on me these few days every year - so close to Christmas and times that are full of so much fun and memory-making. But how I respond to it is changing.
I'm learning to lean in to it, press in. To feel what is there instead of ignoring it and pushing it away. I'm learning to acknowledge it and invite it in and let it run its course. It's taken awhile, but I'm figuring out how to care for myself when grief comes - especially over the memory of my mom. It's okay to be tender and vulnerable and it's okay to be that way even if it's been thirteen years since I last saw her face.
In a few days, the cloud too will pass. My home will breathe new and clean with Christmas put away and the preparations for my second child will be well underway. And I will have felt what I needed to and been kind to my heart. Because my Jesus has brought healing to me even though He has never taken away the sting and ache of grief.
And another shift, another wave, another page will turn.