We don’t know what people are going through. They may be dealing with the loss of a spouse, a hardship from work, the pain of losing a child. We just don’t know. When someone wants to put their lights up in October, let them be. When someone wants to decorate in early November, encourage them. We can be so judgmental and difficult, but would we react the same when we knew the full story?
This year has been a year where we have walked along side some dear friends and family with struggle and loss. As I write this letter 2 of my father figures are in the hospital. I say father figures because neither of them is my father. One of them has known me since I was 7 years old and the other since I was 14. They have loved me and my family in different ways and we are grateful for it.
Let me tell you a little about each of them. Pop as many of us call him is an easy going and caring man. He is one of the greatest listeners we all know. He has a great sense of humor and a kind disposition. When Pop speaks everyone listens because this man does not waste words. Just 2 weeks ago he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. He was having trouble walking and standing up. Even though Pop has slowed down in recent years he was ambulatory. He could walk to get his mail, take the trash out and go to the store with his wife. This has been difficult to see him in this state. On Christmas day we went to the hospital to see him. We brought him his favorite, carrot cake, which he devoured in 2.2 seconds and some gifts. The sweetest moment was when we sang a Christmas carol and he started to get emotional. Seeing Pop be emotional like that was unusual but so good for us to see that it touched him. Our family loves this man, and we look forward to the day where he feels better and can rejoin us for the holidays but for the time being his is in healing and in rehab.
Father figure #2 is harder to talk about, yes, we care about him, yes, he is loving but he knows how to drive us all nuts. He is who you want in your corner when you are down or need something done. Papa is what we call him. He loves his family in his own way. I remember when I delivered my 3rd son, I needed medicated cream, and it was in a local pharmacy. It was the only pharmacy that made it because it wasn’t a medication but a mixture of medications. It was about 20 minutes away and when he arrived at the pharmacy, they told him it would be ready tomorrow. Well, that was not good enough for him. Papa was not walking out of the pharmacy without getting that cream. He told them that he would wait for it while they made it. The determination we love but it’s the stubbornness that gets him what he wants. He too has been in the hospital for 2 weeks. He is Jewish and spent Hanukkah in the hospital. Hearing him talk and share has been good but it’s hard to know that as I write this he is still in the hospital stable but not a lot of answers yet.
Earlier this fall we had a dear friend lose a child. This child was in their early 20s and had so much life ahead of them. What an impossible event, what a difficult thing to go through as a parent. No parent wants to bury their child. Walking with them has been our responsibility and our burden to share. They are spending the holidays without that child, experiencing firsts without them. That hardship is one many never want to think about or even talk about, but we know they aren’t alone. So many families are going through this.
While your Christmas might be Merry and your Holidays might be Happy not everyone feels that way. Some want the holidays to be over because it reminds them of their loss. It reminds them of their hardship. It reminds them of their firsts without a loved one. It reminds them of being alone. It reminds them of all the hurt they are feeling during a time when they are supposed to be making and sharing memories with loved ones. Reach out to those not having Merry Holidays. They need your thoughts, prayers, and care too.