While artCentral and Hyde House are closed for Winter Break, I catch my breath and my thoughts turn more than ever to family.
Some live far away on the east coast. With their two small girls, our granddaughters, travel can be challenging. During the winter holidays we all stay put. They keep us in touch and caught up with digitally transmitted videos and photographs.
Recently they sent images of six-year-old Sophie’s school holiday program. Her public school first grade class is standing on risers in the front of a large room brimfull with families and friends. Sophie and her classmates are wearing their holiday best. Their bright, shining faces reflect their many different backgrounds.
We especially love the video of all the children singing and signing “Shalom” (Peace. Peace.) On the soundtrack we can hear one-year-old Alexandra sitting on her Mother’s lap and cooing-singing along with the big kids. We adore the photograph, where, having broken free of her Mother’s arms, Alexandra has toddled up to her big sister on the front row and is reaching up to her. A sweet, sweet connection. A sweet, sweet memory in the making.
This season is all about making sweet memories, being open to however they come and cherishing them.
My west coast son called and asked, “How is your schedule? I’m driving up from Alabama and can pass through Carthage and stay a couple of nights. I’m sorry this is so last minute. My trip came up suddenly.”
I was in the midst of finishing a painting commission when his call came. I had to sit down. My surprise and my delight were equally immense. I was overjoyed with anticipation. In my wildest imaginings I never considered the possibility of his coming.
I am so very grateful for the gift of this unexpected visit. He and his wife live a long distance away. We all have very full lives and demanding day jobs. We love our family greatly, but time and geography make our visits few and far between. Our hours spent together always pass so very quickly. Every moment we get to share is precious.
Especially now, in this celebration season, I want to treasure every minute—the looks given, the words spoken, the thoughts and love and hugs exchanged. I want to make of them sweet memories to recall next year and the next. I want our sweet memories made together to last for ever and ever after.
I’m very aware that for many of you this season of celebration is filled with more than pleasing surprises and happy reunions. I realize there are those of you among us whose longs are creating tremendous heartaches—intensifying feelings of loss and aloneness.
I know the holidays can magnify all our emotions—joy and sorrow, too. I see your posts on Facebook. My eyes tear as I read, “Grief is like having broken ribs. On the outside you look fine, but with every breath you hurt.” I hear you. I care that you are hurting. I thank you for your honest sharing and telling us of your very real heartache and mourning—for the leaving of a precious child; a wife, husband, mother, father, sister or brother who has gone through the veil; a missed friend or lover; a pet who has crossed over the rainbow.
I wish for each heartache a candle, real or imagined, that whispers and burns ever so sweetly. I wish for you comfort. I wish for you peace. I wish for you a coming someday when your heartache lessens and becomes a soothing sweet gift—a sweet memory here and another there—sweet memories that mend your aching and cause you to smile with your recalling of dear loved ones who have departed.
There is an art to making sweet memories. Sometimes we must wait and weep and be ready for them to come. Come they always will like glittering stars in the winter night skies—like fireflies twinkling in summer’s dusk. Come they will. Come they will. I promise.