Making a list, checking it twice

Every year I make a list tracking the gifts I’ve procured for Christmas so far. On the list appear my husband, kids, mom & dad, youngest sister, sister’s kids, sister’s husband, in-laws, nephews, and a few others. Tonight I jotted a few notes down after a mad trip to Target on the Saturday before the holiday and briefly thought, who’s next? Liz?… oh, right, she’s no longer on the list.

My thoughts then turned to the twenty children who are no longer on the list. No doubt holiday gifts had already been lovingly purchased and tenderly, or rapidly, wrapped for them. Sigh. Those moments when my brain signals to me that my middle sister is still among the living are rare these days. Once in a while I still reach for a phone to connect with my sister again in hopes of hearing her voice just one more time.

As I quiet my mind, I do hear her voice. It is specific and directed, with a note of barely held back laughter. It is real, as real as anyone else’s in the room. I’m just not certain what she’s saying (or I’m just not listening, which is entirely plausible).

These past few months have been full in a way so different than what I was used to in the past, mostly because my work shifted and my kids have had to spend a whole lot more time with me rather than with caregivers. They have been good, challenging, funny, tiring months. As we approach the end of the year, my heart feels as full as a heart can get, I think. The gaping hole in my heart left after my sister’s death remains not full yet no longer empty.

For seven years I lit a candle in my sister’s memory – not quite every night, but almost. I was challenged recently to consider what I will do the next time I lose a loved one (and though it may be far off, it is inevitable). Will I light a candle for him or for her? Will I eventually be surrounded by candles, their lights flickering at sunset, tucking me into bed every night?

It seemed more creepy than comforting when I pictured so many candles around me, one day. So I am taking a break from the Guadalupana.

I suspect that my sister won’t mind me getting on with life, because she may be far busier than I am these days, what with welcoming all those young souls from Connecticut into a new space and a new light.

Observing the firelight from my place tucked beneath a soft red cozy, I appreciate that the boys are quiet, the dog is sleeping, and the wind is still. It is finally my time to just be for a few minutes, and let the world around me just be, and let us all just be enough tonight.

Wishing each of you a most wonderful holiday.

PDX tree


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