This holiday season has been full. There have been a lot of wonderful things, but also two great losses for our family. Right before Thanksgiving, my husband’s uncle passed away. And last week, my aunt passed away. Both were quite unexpected.
I personally have shed a lot of tears in the past week. It was my Mom’s sister who passed.
I think it was hard for me because my own Mom passed away almost 15 years ago. My aunt reminded me a lot of my Mom… Her passing made my heart ache with loss for my Mom and it ached for my cousins… for the pain I know my cousins are experiencing at this time.
Do you know the beautiful poem, The Dash, by Linda Ellis? It is so moving… The dates on a tombstone show the beginning and the end, but it’s really the dash — how you spent your life — that matters. My aunt was an amazing woman. She dealt with heartache and hardship. She worked incredibly hard. Her family meant everything to her.
All that made me think about my own life… my dash. My life feels full – full of love, full of family, full of amazing experiences, full of amazing memories, full of great friends.
Of course, the passing of our family members has meant long conversations with the kids. We’ve shared stories and pictures… and have answered (or talked about) all kinds of questions. What happens when you die? What is a stroke? Can I have a stroke? What is Alzheimer’s? Will I get it? What is cremation? When will Boomer (our dog) die? Where is your (ie. my) Mom buried? Where are we going to be buried? I wonder what people will remember about me? These questions about death and dying, life and living are some of the most challenging of all, right?
I pulled out a couple of books that we still have from when our beloved Vovo/Grandma died, which I shared years ago in this post: The Hardest Lesson of All — Death and Dying. I could not get the image of The Invisible String (affiliate link) out of my mind most of the week. It’s actually not really about dying, but I have always loved the imagery. The premise of that book was that we are all connected by an invisible string (of love, of memories…). And of course, my memories were full this week.
In talking about death with the kids, I still find the short little book Waterbugs and Dragonflies (affiliate link) quite powerful and thought provoking. You can read my thoughts about it in this post. Another book I mentioned in that post was Tear Soup. (affiliate link) This was a book that really addresses the issue of grief really, really well. When my best friend’s Mom died, she shared this book with her kids and it helped their family immensely. I loved the imagery of someone making Tear Soup… and sometimes making that soup long after others have “gotten over” making their own soup. The pain of losing someone we love is so very hard. I have talked a lot this week about how difficult it was/is to get over my Mom’s death. (Do you ever really stop making that soup?) Grieving is personal and important and completely okay. I really loved this book back a few years ago — and still do.
And while I write all this, you might think that life has been melancholy, but it really hasn’t. It’s been full of meaning and full of good memory-building times.
We’re immersed in all the special traditions of the holidays… Decorating, writing our special notes to one another (that we “mail” to each other in a tin mailbox).
And we’ve been playing a lot of music together. The kids have all chosen to play instruments. DD has been playing the flute for a while now, but LD started the saxophone and ED started the trumpet and French horn this fall. We’ve been playing lots of Christmas carols together (I play the oboe). It’s been fun and meaningful even if we don’t sound the best. It’s just such a great feeling to make music *together.*
And of course, we’re still homeschooling. Here’s ED reading a science book the other day. Our dining room table gets a lovely afternoon sun that makes the room glow!
Plus, we’ve been having fires in the wood stove in the homeschool room while reading aloud. (We’re currently reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens together. We are all enjoying Pip’s adventures!!)
So, I really just wanted to reach out and share a little glimpse of what’s been happening in our home behind the scenes.
I hope that your home is full of brightness and love this holiday season.
One more thing before I go. I plan to take a couple of weeks off. You’ll still be able to reach me by email (or the contact form), but we’ll be focusing on family and friends this holiday season.
We have close friends coming from Australia to stay with us next week. (We lived in central Australia for 12 years and the kids were all born there.). Here are a few cute pics from where we lived: Simpson’s Gap, Alice Springs; feeding the rock wallabies (note the joey in the top right picture); and watching the annual camel races. Talk about happy memories!!
Plus, we’ll be having Grandpa and Grandma come stay with us. Love that!!
There are a couple more posts scheduled for this week — and then we’ll see you in the New Year!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.