Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I forced myself into the shower, turning the water as hot as I could stand it.

Feeling the water hit my back, I leaned into it, grateful for the sensation, realizing I had deliberately been trying not to feel anything for days.

I was planning to wear the navy blue suit but knew I needed to shave my legs. Grabbing the razor and the shaving cream, I put my foot on the ledge, lathered up one leg, and began shaving. My mind wandered here and there, my eyes tearing up as I anticipated the long day ahead of me.

I was jolted back to the present when I felt it. It stung, and as I looked with surprise at the spot on my leg that was hurting, I saw a thin stream of pink water running off my leg and down the drain.

How on earth I could have put a 3 inch gash in my leg with a safety razor I will never know. It hurt. And it bled profusely. And I knew that shortly I had to don the smart suit with the skirt and the sheer nylon stockings that would make it obvious to the world how clumsy I was. Great.

I cried.

I cried for the things my grandpa would never see; my college graduation, my wedding, my future children. I cried for the only man who was a daily presence for the first year of my life. I cried because I was 21 years old and I had never lost anyone that close to me before.

The rest of that day is a blur. A funeral where we sang Christmas carols. Watching the casket being carried out as I choked out the words to "Joy to the World." Thinking, "Joy? Really? You've GOT to be kidding me." Standing graveside on a gray afternoon as the wind whipped around the pine trees nearby and the snow fluttered gently to the ground. And all day, the constant, gnawing ache of the gash on my leg that somehow seemed appropriate, like a strange balance to the awful ache inside of me.

I've mentioned before that December is a month full of sad days for me. The grandmother from whom I am estranged turned 82 on December 1. How odd to just watch that day go by, year after year. Then come the anniversaries, one after another: eight years since my father-in-law died November 29 and his funeral was December 2. My Grandpa Keith died December 17 that same year. And my Grandpa Don died December 11 and his funeral was 17 years ago today.

I am grateful for the ache I feel, because I know it means I loved and was loved. That I DO love, still. And I am grateful this year because I have felt that elusive holiday spirit. Not every day, but far more than in years past. I am grateful for coffee and conversation with a friend this morning on a day that otherwise would probably have been spent alone trying to forget what day it was.

I won't forget. But I am doing my level best to remember all of them in a positive way; to celebrate the season they all loved. To talk about them, to remember that Grandpa Don loved Pinwheel cookies. That my father-in-law Gary was so excited to have a grandson with his last name, a grandson named in his honor, when Garrett was born. That Grandpa Keith, who delivered thousands of babies in his medical career, listened to my labor and birth stories of Garrett and Evan and asked all the right questions, probing for every detail just like my girlfriends.

Someday they may just be photos in scrapbooks. But today I will remember, and share something about who they were, and I will vow to never forget.


  1. Anonymous10:17 AM

    Now I'm tearing up. :hug: