Don’t Be Sad….
A friend commented the other day about how well Cole and I seemed to be doing, and asked me what I thought contributed the most to our wellbeing. The answer, I think, is that we are moving through the grief process our way. “Our way” has always been an important value in “Our Family.”
Thanksgiving day, I poured a cup or so of Joe’s “remains” in a yellow mixing bowl and, together with a few loved ones, we headed out to the front yard to toss them in the direction we thought the wind was blowing. When the wind blew the ashes back towards us instead out into the beyond, Cole and I both noticed. This was Joe’s way. He hated to leave.
Each December, we attended the Chicago Waldorf Holiday Fair, where as young parents, we agonized over each Christmas gift we bought for Cole. Many of them charmed us more than they charmed Cole, who insisted on loving his rubber balls and plastic dump trucks over felted gnomes, but nonetheless, fairy dust flew at the fair. Joe was both Pocket Man and Winter Fairy at the Holiday Fair for several years. Holding tissue wrapped treasures in his pocket or apron, he traded them for quarters held in small hands as he strolled around the fair. The first year that Joe was the Winter Fairy, Cole proudly looked up at him, decked out in his winter fairy garb, grabbed his hand and said, “Daddy, you’re the best Winter Fairy, even if you are a little huge.
Here is an odd fact: Joe and I were married on December 23rd, 2000 and we never celebrated one anniversary. Most of the time, we forgot our anniversary altogether, or else mentioned it in passing with a quick kiss and a, “Hey, Happy Anniversary.” It wasn’t that Christmas overshadowed our anniversary. We just accepted the fact that we were married and moved on. We were pronounced man and wife, sealed it with a kiss, and, as summed up by Joe the moment after, “done.” Cole loves telling the story about how he was his dad’s best boy at the wedding and almost missed his wedding ring cue. Our wedding was a party, a celebration, an acknowledgement, a connection to tradition and convention important to both of us. Our marriage, we believed, was signed and sealed by fate the day we met. It was our destiny to do it “our way” together.
As Cole and I move through the holidays, “our way” we included Joe in our conversations and our memories. We talk about Joe’s “Homemade Ravioli Stage.” Last December, Joe made raviolis for weeks topped with every imaginable sauce and stuffed with every concoction but dog (well, at least we were not missing any of our own). Joe always put up the lights on the coldest day of December – in a blizzard if he could manage – and then insisted we leave them up until after his late February birthday. I have a hard time imagining trimming the tree without Joe. He would hang the lights and then do a running commentary on each ornament as Cole and I hung them on the tree. After the lights and ornaments were hung, Cole and Joe would THROW big handfuls of tinsel on the tree, frustrating me to no end (just as tinsel throwing has frustrated all moms since it was invented). We talk about how much Joe loved to play Christmas music, from the day after Thanksgiving until the day after New Year’s, and it would have been longer still if I had not hidden the CDs.
Wondering how to end my Joe December blog post, I asked Joe if he had anything to add. Today, I opened a seldom-used drawer and found an index card written in Joe’s handwriting. He had written a quote by Abraham Hicks:
“Don’t be sad, be less sad; Don’t be less sad, be hardly sad; Don’t be hardly sad, be seldom sad; Don’t be seldom sad, be sometimes glad; Don’t be sometimes glad, be often glad; Don’t be often glad, be more often glad; Don’t be more often glad, be mostly glad; Don’t be mostly glad, be glad.”
It was hand-dated December 5, 2008 (the date of this year’s Waldorf Holiday Fair).
Joe, All Is Well … Our Way. Count on us to throw tinsel, blast Christmas music, put the polar bear in his special spot, and to miss you. But … we’ll pass on the raviolis!
Glad you were in my Odd neighborhood. Feel free to drop by any time. Odd Loves Company and odd loves you and you and you!! I would love to hear from you in the comment section of this blog, or on Facebook or Twitter!
Update: Cole came home from school today with this story: “Mom while we were setting up the scaffolding to paint the set for the 8th grade play, my side of the scaffolding came down. It was falling directly at my head, when I found myself moved into a little hole within the scaffolding, the hole was barely big enough for me fit in. Mom, dad pushed me into that little hole. I know he did…”