Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Stone

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, Snow is glistening...

The song called Winter Wonderland drifts through my mind on an almost constant basis these days. It truly is a wonderland outside...everything has a lovely skim of fresh, powdery Snow. The Christmas lights decorating the front entrance, along with all the Snow, should put me in a Christmassy state of mind.

So far, though, the Spirit of Christmas has passed me by.

It may be because a viral bug has found me. My nose is running and my bones ache, my mind is cloudy and my eyes are red and sore. But today....ahh, today I will put the bug in his place!...I have presents to wrap and send.

No matter how I feel, when I get down to actually wrapping all those bags and bags of gifts Santa just plunked down on the guest room bed, there is an insidious feeling that takes over. 

The Christmas Spirit is stealthy and cunning like this. I find myself wrapping a gift, in a rather resentful manner, because I'd far rather be lying on the couch...and suddenly, sneakily, the Spirit tickles my mind. I begin to think about the recipient of the gift, how surprised they might be, and how happiness will bubble over when they receive it.

Love makes itself known along with the Spirit, of course. I will miss my family over Christmas...they have travelled to Mexico...but Love still overflows when their gifts are wrapped, with a special bow here and there. And yet, still, it feels bittersweet, this wrapping of gifts...

My grandson asked me yesterday if I was going to be there at his special place in Mexico. I almost lost it then, when I told him I wouldn't be,  that I would see him very soon after his return. I will miss my granddaughter's sixteenth birthday celebration as well. And so, you see...the Christmas Spirit, as sneaky as he is, still can have a difficult time with me.

It is always thus, every year, really, whether I see my family or not. Thirteen years ago, my daughter died on December 30. Even yet, it feels as if a Stone has been placed on my chest, more so at this time of year. And many of us feel so, if an anniversary of a death should happen around the time of Christmas and the New Year.

I wish I knew how to remove the Stone.

The Spirit of Christmas, however, does not let all these sad events hold him back. He insists on arriving, whether or not I am remembering a tragic time. And with his arrival, even if the Stone is hampering my breathing, things become easier.

Why not, after all?...I ask myself. There is nothing I can do about the past...why should the past now have the power to tell me how to feel today?

A beautiful sight...we're happy tonight...
Last week, a dear friend said to me...Can you even begin to imagine what Katrina's first Christmas in Heaven was like? Can you imagine what Earth would look like from Heaven, with all the lights and good cheer? The young children's voices in all the school choirs would float upwards...she said... and for Katrina,  for whom Christmas was her favourite season,  wouldn't she love it so?

Yes, she would...I said...She would, indeed!

And with that, the Stone becomes a little bit lighter.

Because my daughter loved Christmas, most years I remember that. With the rest of the family gone this year, I  have allowed myself to sink into Grinchiness.

But with Christmas music playing, with all the gifts only half wrapped, I think it is time to join in on the joy of the Season. Sadness has no place amongst all those gaily wrapped gifts.

I recall, when my granddaughter Brianna was about a year old, how Katrina and I and Bree went to a very beautifully decorated home. As we wandered through the garden Katrina said...Isn't this just the most beautiful  and happy place on Earth?... I looked at her own enormous beauty, with her eyes shining with love for her baby...and I thought, yes, right now, this moment, there is nothing lovelier.

And at Christmas, this is the memory which takes over. And I still think there can be nothing lovelier than that extraordinarily clear remembrance of my daughter.

Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is a new bird....

Years ago, I told my daughters, when we went for a walk, that they could each hold one of my arms. Heidi always took my right and Katrina always took the left arm.

And today, even though a cold bug found me, even though the Stone still finds its spot over my heart, I will go for a walk.

During that walk, I will feel my daughters' hands clinging to their preferred arm. They may not be here with me, but their energy is. Just as my grandchildrens' loving thoughts will surround me, as well.

The Stone will become almost non-existent.

And then, later on, I'll conspire...

To face unafraid, the plans that we made, walking in a Winter wonderland!


  1. This is a stirring post that has left me almost speechless. The Christmas spirit is illusive and generates both joy and pain. I understand your beautiful candle a little better now. I like to think our loved ones are never lost when they are in our memories. It is strange how near they can feel when they live in our hearts.

  2. It is hard (I know from experience) to feel joy at this time of year when we have experienced tragedies in the past.

    I really enjoyed this post.

  3. Marion, have you blogged about your daughter's passing? I would like to read that, if you would point it out please.

    It must be very hard on you still. I'm so sorry.

    After Mom died, I had conversations with her in my meditations. These conversations feel as if they are imagined, but they tend to take on a life of their own and in them, Mom says and does things that don't seem to come from me, or my imagination. At any rate, my mom loved music and had a beautiful singing voice, and she said there IS a choir of heavenly angels and she gets to sing in it, and I was to pass that little message along. And so here it is, for you.

  4. The way you have woven the appropriate lyrics into your post is amazing.
    Marion, I'm confused, have you lost both daughters? I can't even imagine losing a pet (you know me) but to lose a child, my goodness I had no idea. Insert a big FAT hug right here.

    The holidays are often melancholy for me as well, although there's no particular person I'm missing. I think what I've come to realize is that missing person is me. I hope I can reclaim her (and heal her) in the coming new year.

    This is a beautiful post, full of emotion and wisdom. Thank you for writing it.


  5. Marion, Such a beautiful post, I let out a gasp and tears came when I read about you losing your daughter. You handle it very well and are brave, I know how it must hurt. What a beautiful writer you are.
    I get sad at this time of year too and I have lost many loved ones around this time, but none can hurt as much as losing a child.
    Many hugs and lots of love. xoxo
    P.S. I hope you get your package by Friday!

  6. As you say a mixture of sadness and happiness, and all parents would feel for you in your situation. But I would guess that seeing your family on their return will make you happy again. On a lighter note you must have a better postal system then ours if you are now posting your presents. Already the postal service, and couriers, have issued warnings that not all psrcels will be delivered in time for Christmas.

  7. Oh this is both lovely and heart-wrenching. I doubt you will ever lose that stone, nor should you - as I read recently in a poem about grief, any stone can be an altar. Yours will always remind you of your daughter and perhaps your thoughts will remember to follow the loving lifeline you've laid down here. Wishing you all the joy the season can bring!

  8. Dear Marion,
    I can truly relate to your bittersweet post.
    Two years ago, I was celebrating the happiest Christmas in my life. Last year, was the absolute worst. This year, I am a little lower than centre....but, it's alright.....because although I am alone - I am not lonely. I have made some wonderful friends in 2010 - and I am blessed to have my health. I am slowly returning to look around me and see beauty in Nature, in an animal's bright the last leaf clinging to a bare Wintered tree....
    I think as long as we have HOPE enough to feel joy - we can calm the pain we have from loss.
    You, m' dear, are one of the lovely friends I have made....and I know you will celebrate YOUR Christmas with your children and grandchildren WHEN they return. Your daughter lives on through them - through you....she is a big part of your heart.
    Sending you loving Christmas Hugs and Wishes for a New Year that brings you and yours health and joy.


    ♥ Robin ♥

  9. aka Penelope,

    Yes, strange and very wonderful. There is a certain awareness, an energy, that once in awhile visits me. I know without a doubt that energy is Katrina. The veil between places is very thin, really.

    I hope you have the merriest of Christmases, dear Penelope, with your family!


    Most people have lost someone or many. The joy of the Christmas Season can be hard to take, as you know. Grief doesn't stop just because Christmas arrives. But it is getting easier for me..

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, old friend...thank you for reading once again a post about my dear Katrina! Heh...


  10. Katie May (or may not),

    Oh, please thank your mother for me! I have had many conversations with Katrina, in meditation and out. I know about that voice you mention...I love when it comes!

    I am in the process of searching for the posts I've written about Katrina. It used to be one could search one's own blog for specific posts, but that did not work this morning. There are quite a few...I usually write about her on her birthday and around Christmas and other times. I treasure the friends who still read those posts, even if they've heard it all before!

    Have a very merry holiday season, Katie May, and all the very best wishes for a healthy and happy New Year!

    Studio Lolo,

    I'm sorry if I wasn't clear in my post...I assume far too much! One of my daughters died...Katrina. Heidi is my other daughter, the eldest of the two, and she and her husband adopted three year old Brianna, when Katrina died. Heidi and her family are presently spending the holiday in Mexico.

    Any death causes grief. I think the tie, the bond between parents and child is very strong, thus it takes longer for time to do its work. I have had two divorces...a loss as well...and the grief for my daughter outweighs those. By far.

    I feel I'm missing a part of me, as well. Dear lolo, if you find yours, will you direct me to mine, heh?!

    By the photos on your blog, I know you will have an awesome Christmas! I wish you and your family much love and happiness in the coming year! xoxo

    Annie Coe,

    Every death hurts, every death causes grief. That monster wave of grief engulfs everybody, be it the loss of a child, parents, pets, friends and on...

    There is a sense of failure on the part of the parent when a child dies first. It can be difficult to eradicate.

    I have not gone to the PO yet this may be there, Annie!! I hope you have an amazing holiday season! xoxo


    Thank you for reading a post about Katrina once again, old friend!! Our postal system is abysmal, unless one pays for a seat ticket on the airline for the parcel! I'm sending these gifts by bus, and when the kids get back from Mexico the gifts will be there. It's not till January I've got time.

    I wish the happiest of holidays for you, Dave...see you in 2011! Hope the snow lets up for you!

  11. Pauline,

    What an extraordinarily beautiful comment. I believe you are absolutely right...if I lose that stone (altar) I will have lost a huge part of Katrina...maybe all of it. It's mostly quite light, really.

    Wishing you a lovely, healthy and happy holiday season, dear Pauline, and much love to you! xoxo


    Yes. It was when Hope returned that pain lessened. Sometimes it just takes awhile to see the light at the end which is hardly a pinprick at the beginning of any loss.Thank you for such a loving, thoughtful comment, dear Robin. I can count on you to understand!

    Merry Christmas, sweetie...I wish you joy, health and safety in the coming year!


  12. Oh my i am so sorry about your daughter. HOw sad it must be for you. Yet, it seems you are working out the sadness and reapproaching how to be at this time of year. Your words are beautiful and I too admire the way you wove the song, the photos and your words throughout the post. How lovely too of your daughter to adopt sweet Bree. You have a lovely family. Big hugs to you and many blessings, Suki

    PS remember there are 12 days of Christmas. The presents will not be late!!!

  13. I have that same song going through my head all the time when I'm outside at the moment, and sometimes when just wandering about inside too! I know a couple of people who lost their respective fathers around Christmas and I know how hard it is for them let alone you, but your happy spirit still shines through and I'm sure Katrina and singing the worlds along with you and wanting you to try and be as cheery as you can. I'm a bit slow on the blog catch up - hence not realising the others are in Mexico.Just think of the fun you'll have when they get back and make it all Christmassy into the New Year instead. Easier said than done I know. Big hugs, and much love, Michelle xxx

  14. Dear Marion,
    I've been visiting with a hospice bereavement counselor every week since my mother died in August, and she reassures me repeatedly that grief is a journey that wanders through many avenues, like any good hiking would do, taking you up and down and around and through as you explore the many manisfestations of your life shift. All of the journey is a valuable time of self-discovery and none of it is pointless.
    You and grief evolve together, she says. In every part of it, there's something to become aware of, something that enriches you. At first I thought this sort of talk was a load of crappola. now I find it reassuring. My mother showed up in a dream recently, dressed in beautiful clothes she never wore in life, accompanied by a lady friend, which she never had while living. In my dream, I told her to leave me alone in private when she tried to enter my room, and she very agreeably withdrew. I felt guilty making her leave, but I was enormously happy about her new clothes. Strange, the things our imaginations can cook up!
    I miss her a lot, like you miss your daughter. I've not had her mentally with me for five years, since the dementia kicked in. I know she's free and happy now, but still, she has left me. Accepting such feelings is part of the process of allowing grief to become a companion rather than an enemy, something that must be conquered. And I remind myself that I believe in a God who promises that he will turn all things into good for those who love him and live according to his purposes.
    God bless your holiday with a rich and contented time.

  15. Dear dear Marion. what a post. whew.

    I have that damn cold also and it's a wopper! I've given into it and now it seems to be going away, but I had a night or two of yucky, non-sleeping misery which caused me to be a complete grinch. But yes...the season get's to me in the end (thank goodness)

    I didn't know that you had lost your daughter and oh - I'm so sorry. My sister-in-law (who was my college roommate) died 6 years ago in January, so she was ill over Christmas. My MIL lived near her at the time and took care of her almost to the end. MIL moved away from the area about 6 months after Lucile died, and has seemed to be happy....but I know that she thinks about her daughter all the time, and I know it has contributed to her lack of will to live thru this illness of hers. She wants to be around for her son (my hubby) but the stone on her chest is too heavy to fight anymore. I can't even imagine the heaviness of that stone - it's beyond my comprehension.

    I wish you a loving and peaceful Christmas, inspired by the beauty and joy of the season, and send you a mental chisel to chip that stone into smaller chips.

  16. May all your treasured memories of past Christmas's warmly wrap around you this Christmas Marion.

  17. To Enchanted Oak,
    When my mother shows up in my meditations, she is always wearing the kind of clothing she never wore in this life. Isn't it interesting! Mom's is a filmy, gauzy, flowing kind of garment and she looks so happy, free and light ... I see it as a sign of how her "life" is now ... when she was here, she was a very conservative, though careful, dresser.

  18. Katie May (or may not,

    Kate, I found a post about Katrina I did a few years ago. Here's the link...

    Sorry it took so long, there are others but they were written before the labelling system Google now has came into play. I'll find them, though.


    I think it's just perfect for the kids to come home from a tropical holiday to more surprises! We may not be together, but the ties are strong!

    Have a lovely holiday, Suki, full of wondrous moments...

    All Consuming,

    I find I am terribly behind in my blogging, as well. The kids will be back on January 5..not so long. I actually love it when they travel the World at Christmas...what experiences my grandchildren have already had!

    By the way, Michelle, and I will be writing to you about it, but Brianna will be travelling to Manchester, I believe, in the late Spring. She will be travelling with her soccer team. How exciting is that, in all ways! Merry Christmas, dear Michelle...I hope your day is awe-inspiring!!

    Enchanted Oak,

    Chris, thank you for your extremely thoughtful comment. Everything shifts when a death of someone close occurs...time,reality, etc. all change. And so did I. I felt so much lighter after going through the long storm of grief. The whole process completely turned me around, upside down and every which way...and then spat me out.

    I don't think it was your imagination about your mother at all...when my mom visits (in dreams,daydreams, meditations, energy visits)she is enjoying things she could never do before, and she is insanely happy. I think it's so great... the visits that occur immediately after death are so real. They fade a bit with time, but I am always left with a message.

    Merry Christmas, Chris...I hope you will have a wonderful day!

  19. Mim,

    Oh, Mim, what a lovely comment. Given time, I think your MIL would come to some sort of acceptance, but it is time she does not have. When my daughter died, I lost all fear of death, and I'm sure your MIL has as well. It's an odd feeling, one I know others in the same position share. You are so caring towards her, both you and your husband.

    Thank you for the mental chisel...I shall use it on a few other stones hanging around as well.

    I hope you'll enjoy Christmas day, Mim, and that that dreaded cold bug will fly off to other areas. xoxo


    Oh thank you, Bim...they will. And the same sentiment applies to you and your family this Christmas day!

    Katie May (or may not),

    It is interesting to me as well. My parents and Katrina, when they visit, show that they feel so FREE and light. By their actions, the scenery, their clothes...everything points to really joyful moments. The times when sadness is there in the visits usually teach me something, tell me something I need to know. It's truly awesome, I think. It fills my heart with joy to know how happy they are, mostly...

    Merry Christmas, Kate, and have a really great day! All the best to the rest of your family and enjoy your dinner!

  20. I made your first tree photo my desktop picture, and then I came to you second and liked it ever better because it is wide.

    If your bones ache, does this mean you are also running a fever of 100 or more? If so, you probably have the flu--ouch!

    I loved the song lyrics you posted as they reminded me of some beautiful music.

  21. A bittersweet time for sure. I hope you see the rest of the family soon. I was blessed to have mine near. All the best for a successful, healthy, and happy New Year!

  22. Hope your Christmas was happy and bright, Marion!

  23. Marion, I somehow missed this beautiful post until today, but I'm so glad to have read it now. I'm so sorry to learn about your loss, though that knowledge helps me understand how you have become so wise.

    I've recently reconnected with a good friend after we had lost contact for many years. During the years we were apart, she lost a son, and she wrote me about her feelings during the holidays, feelings very similar to the "stone" you have described. I've just read your post entitled "Katrina's Birthday" and will share it with my friend when the time feels right. I think it will bring her comfort.

    Wishing you a safe and happy New Year!