Sitting on our bookshelf is a Charlie Brown Christmas book that Little L received from her Nana for Christmas a few years ago. What makes this book extra super special is that it forever preserves Nana's voice as she reads the story. When you turn the page, some transitional music plays and then you can hear Nana narrating the classic tale of Charlie Brown's search for the true meaning of Christmas.
This is our second copy of the book. Little L read and reread the first one so often as a toddler that it came off its spine and no longer played the correct page when you opened it up. Nana and YeYe searched high and low to secure a second copy for their first grandbaby; I suspect they were secretly delighted both by her love of reading and also by her enthusiasm for their personalized gift.
Anyway, when I open the book now, and hear Nana's expressive retelling of the story, it seems particularly poignant because it points out focus to what really matters at Christmastime - Jesus Christ, God Incarnate who came to deliver mankind from sin and give us the hope of eternity. It is especially meaningful, too, that it was right after the Christmas season that she surrendered her spirit to Jesus. We are filled with good grief, because we know the hope found in Christ, but we also have a sorrowful grief, since her fairly sudden departure leaves us with an unspeakable void.
My sadness is like Swiss cheese with all the holes; some are hidden from view deep within me, while others appear as giant ugly cry craters on my surface. And much like my grief over my Dad, the things that I tend to miss most are the smallest things that capture the essence of who Mom was. I miss her expressions when she would savour that first bite of some delicious meal; she would close her eyes, smile, and make this mm-mm-mmmm sound while simultaneously wiggling in her seat to reveal her satisfaction and delight. Or the way she would break into a boogie in celebration over the little and the big things, or when a favourite song would come on the radio. I cherish that moment when her eyes widened and filled with happy tears at the realization that she was going to be a Nana for the first time. I miss my shopping buddy; we were unstoppable at Christmas markets and also at Winners. I long to hear one more laugh, clap, and conspiratorial whisper in my ear, "Oh, you SO get me!" To sit with her at the slots and feed one more $20 into the machine just for the heck of it. To taste her culinary skills crafting her trademark linguine and clam sauce again, which she made often because she knew it was a favourite of ours. To even have her correct the way I loaded cutlery into her fancy dishwasher or stacked her pots for storage. Oh, to have my second Mom again! I am undone.
Grief comes in waves for me. I usually hold together fairly stoically, and then melt in an emotional heap when I randomly come across a "Mom thing". I won't be sad until I am, and then the sorrow at yet another loss to the devil's plague - cancer - will unravel me like a cheap sweater.
But grief is healthy and good, too; it reminds us to celebrate a life well lived and offers us a challenge to go forth and live fully while we can. And Mom lived well; her days were full and so was her heart. Her love and her positivity will be missed, but our farewell is only temporary. We will meet again one day, God-willing.
Until then, Mom, I'll remember to do a happy dance every time I remember you. ❤️