The holidays! The season calls out for festive parties and intimate times to talk to friends. Expectations build. Children dream of packages tucked under trees. As adults, we look forward to visiting with Aunt Mary and Granny Ann. During the year we do not stop long enough for this sort of catching up. Now, in front of a crackly fire we reminisce and look ahead, as well.
For many of us this is the time of year when our thoughts alight on those wonderful folk we find stored in our memories. As I look ahead to the upcoming festivities, my mind also visits with the dear ones who have passed on, but remain lively within my heart.
Walter, baby brother. You died just as we were discovering one another. You were eleven years younger than me. I bossed you around, teased you and chased you out of my life. Then I saw your sweet nature, your gift with music, your devotion to family. And we connected as family. I still her your clear voice in the music around me.
Jim, we survived a toxic family in opposite ways. You found a family elsewhere, your friends’ mothers became your mothers. I retreated to my room, established a gentle family of dolls to guide me beyond the chaos in our home. It took thirty years to get to know you as a confidante and fellow survivor. We talked for hours every Sunday, memories punctuated by puns. I share those puns with others now. I tell the stories to myself.
Patty. I found you through your laugh. You laughed so loud, I heard you blocks away from the dogpark. And your laugh was so infectious, I forgot I knew no one, took a wonderful chance with your friendship. You opened my eyes to the beauties around me. You clicked your camera. I found the words behind your exquisite image. Now I must find those words by myself. But they still belong to both of us.
Helen. We called your house Camp Helen. My doxies and I came down to Camp Verde searching adventure. We found it in dead trees riddled with termite holes behind electrified fences, in water-logged branches beside the nearby Verde River. Your magic was contagious. Now I create my own art, each piece with a spark of Helen in it.
And Judie, you gave me the gift of your spirit. How many times I awoke in the middle of the night in panic, and could call you. Your gentle voice, your strong faith, your deep love guided me beyond my nightmares. We knew you were dying. That last year, we spoke by phone daily. You shared your wisdom. I drank it in, hungrily. Now, alone, your wisdom, your devotion is deep within me, gives me the power to grow and live on my own.
And so, as Christmas approaches, as I make plans to celebrate another series of holidays connected only by memory to these five pillars in my life, I grab the music, the humor, the beauty, the magic and the faith I got from you and step forward, a party alive within me! Merry Christmas. Thank you for the lives you shared.
This is a time of darkness.
Familiar light posts have melted
into the shadows of night.
We must turn, now, to new
sources of light, beat back
the encroaching gloom.
Light your candle of hope.
I will light mine.
Together our brave flickers
of flame will bring warmth
to the deep chills of winter.
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"