The Christmas season has been going well. They say the first year of grief is the hardest because you go through each “first” with your new big empty space. I say whatever. Maybe it’s true. But that is about as helpful as the grief books I still haven’t read. Grief isn’t an emotion. I didn’t wake up yesterday feeling grieved. Grief is a giant magnifying glass for the normal feelings.
Yesterday I woke up mad. And since Mom isn’t here, I woke up furious. I swam for a mile in the ocean with my friend Carol and that slightly improved matters. But then I hit a too-slow pigeon with my 30 mph Cavalier. I realized when I burst into tears after parking that it probably wasn’t the pigeon death that started the tears. It was probably the fact that every day I decide to be happy about Christmas and that means I have to make a lot of little choices. Turn the radio station to a different channel when Amy Grant starts. Don’t hang that ornament. Buy a new tree topper. Don’t light that cinnamon candle, light the pine candle. Don’t make the spritz cookies, make the gingerbread men. Every day I decide what part of Christmas I can do and what part will turn me into a mascara mess. We pulled out just the right amount of decorations so that we weren’t a Bah Humbug house but not so much that every end-table told a story of a past Christmas. And it has been working. We are enjoying the season. But the wrenching sobs over a pigeon reminded me that it is a bit tenuous.
So, yesterday, I did the only thing to be done when the tear ducts go rebel, I went to the movies with sisters and girlfriends. We went to see New Years Eve featuring just about every star in Hollywood between the ages of 20 and 70. Let me tell you, they got their money’s worth out of me. Every sappy line, every broken heart, every reunited family got me. The sisters vote cheesy. I vote heartwarming. See it for yourself.
As Megan and I drove back up to the house, we spotted a Christmas-presenty looking thing by the door. We may be 24 and 28 but we might have gotten a little excited still. Turns out it was only a cracker box but it was tweeting. Dad had trimmed the palm tree and had trimmed two baby pigeons right out of their nest. Dad’s a tender guy so he left them on the ground for a few hours hoping the mother bird/cat would find them. But finally he made a box nest and gifted them to his daughters. I’ve done the baby bird thing before so I knew what I was in for. But this time I resented it a little less since I had just killed a member of the species a few hours earlier.
Each time I have fed the little helpless things, I’ve thought how completely dependent they are on a caregiver. They eat until their eyes close and they sleep little pigeony sleep. And I remember how fragile I am in God’s hands and how carefully he takes care of me. A bird-lover friend is coming to pick them up this afternoon so the analogy ends there. God’s got me for keeps…from my first Christmas to my last.