We have traveled many kilometers in the last week, changing “homes,” time zones, and garbage disposal instructions.
We have been able to light our advent candles most nights, trying to explain our unconventional advent rituals to the various people we are sharing them with. The term advent “wreath” doesn’t quite apply: last year we had an advent raft due to the overflow of bugs in the greenery we tried to build our wreath with. This year we have an advent tray, so we aren’t leaving bits of the wreath all over as we move with it.
We are appreciating our advent calendar so much. I’ve spoken a few times about how having others grieve with us mysteriously eases the burden for us. When Elizabeth put together the calendar, she spoke of how hard it was for her emotionally. Working on it, and receiving (e)mail kept our loss in front of her in a more constant way than it had been. She said that she realized that this was what our days are like. Her willingness to prepare this despite the immediacy of the grief has allowed us to look forward with anticipation to some unknown good surprise each day. Some ways of carrying this grief with us are tangible.
As we open our notes and gifts, most days your words, kindness, and creativity have brought tears to our eyes. It has been another illustration to us of the way that we think and grieve differently. For me, the hard part was thinking about it and preparing for it. Once we were moving towards a good solution, I was content. I was prepared to participate and enjoy it. For Mike it was different, he wasn’t spending much time thinking ahead about it. As we opened our packages on the first Sunday of advent, Mike collapsed into tears. He said two very true things:
“She should be here with us, opening her books.”
And very shortly after that, “We have such good friends.“
Your kindness, generosity, and thoughtfulness continue to give us the courage not to shrink from things that are hard – to celebrate what we had, to acknowledge what we are missing, and to remember and recognize what is good about our life.