Are you okay, really?

I didn’t want to write this blog post.

Some things, I was told as a child, are better left unsaid.

And, while I do say much on this blog, there is much unsaid.

Some things, some things like fresh wounds that sting upon contact with foreign substances like peroxide, alcohol, and dove soap need time and air to heal.

All this must happen, I have realized, before we can make sense of, with some real clarity, what we have healed from.

One of things, or unsaid things, in my life that I have yet to talk about on this blog is the passing of my father two years ago.

I am reminded of this unsaid reality with the coming of the holidays.

His death was marked by what would have been a celebrated Christmas holiday.

That holiday, as I remember it, was to be recalled with the giving of a turkey, an apple pie, a tree with lights, gifts, peppermint candy canes, snow, a family picture that would serve years from now to remind us that “we were ok then.”

But, it wasn’t.

The snow that was anticipated never came.

Some raspberry flavored candies in a heart shaped glass bowl by the foyer of my parent’s house stood in the place of the absent peppermint candy canes.

The tree with white lights was never purchased.

The lights remained in the basement, tangled in a plastic storage bin marked “Working Lights.”

The gifts were never wrapped and never made their way beneath the un-purchased tree.

The apple pie remained in the freezer after the funeral that marked our loss.

All the details of that day that I thought would be my memory are not. My main memory is that of loss, a loss of a loved one.

I write this not to elicit sympathy.

I write this not for my own closure. I have that already.

I write this for some one else, someone who may be reading this and may be focusing too much on the details and events of the holidays and ideals of what the holidays should mean, rather than the real people that give meaning to our holidays and everydays.

I write this for some one who may be living, breathing, existing among loved ones without really knowing, and I mean really knowing, how they are doing.

I write this to encourage the ones reading to ask that loved one, and all other loved ones who may appear to have it “all together,” “How are you doing really? It’s stressful for most during these times of years. The expectation of it all can be too much. With this in mind, I’ll ask again, how are you doing really?”

I write this to encourage that person to also say more often, and with sincerity, to that, or those, loved one(s), “I love you because you are you, not for what you can or cannot give to me. I appreciate you for being you, not for your ability to be or not be like I want you to be. There is no one like you and never will be. Ever.”

I write this to remind that person that love is an active word and an active feeling that is exchanged, mostly. When it is needed most, love cannot simply be communicated through passive words and sayings like “thanks” or passive acts like “an exchanged gift” purchased with the memory of a loved one in mind.  Most of us need more, I think.

I write this to remind that person that the many details of the planning for and anticipation of things, things like the Christmas dinner, lights wrapped around the Christmas tree, the presents, all of it, is not really real, meaningful, of value without our paying attention to the real substance of our lives, our relationships with others.

That’s all we really have.

Dinners are eaten too quickly. Gifts, on Christmas day, are of little use too soon.  The snow melts. Then what? Often feeling let down by it all, or the inability of our real holidays to match those that we had imagined leading up to those days, we seek to plan for next year assuming that it will come. But what if it doesn’t?

Our loved ones and their memories are all that will remain.

That’s it.

Hold dear to your hearts your loved ones this holiday season and every season of your lives.

Cherish those relationships, not things, stuff, and ideas about everything that is right and mostly wrong about those relationships.

This is my holiday message.  That’s all.

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15 Responses to “Are you okay, really?”

  1. MsBabyPlan says:

    This a very beautiful post…

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. MAMA BRANDI says:

    Beautiful post, and so on point and right on time! Thank you for sharing!

  3. flyrish says:

    As you know, I lost my mother in February of 2009, so this really hits home for me. Especially because her birthday was Dec. 23rd and Christmas has always been a big holiday for my family. I completely agree with your sentiments. And I keep thinking of one person in particular who doesn't know how to show love aside from giving meaningless gifts. I wish she would realize what's really important.

    Thank you for this post, Jessica!

  4. LPC says:

    Thank you. I am getting ready to host Thanksgiving and I feel such joy for the privilege of having a family. I am sorry you lost your father when you were still young.

  5. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    Thank you you for this beautiful reminder. Hugs.

  6. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    Loved this so much that I had to tweet it.

  7. GG says:

    This beautiful and your timing is perfect. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Annette says:

    Yes, I'm reminded of my deceased loved ones during the holidays too–especially my dad. Please take care.

    I'm sending an award your way:

    Congrats on being wonderful!

  9. Ms. Jenni [xo] says:

    Wow. Such a powerful and beautiful post. Thank you for such a strong reminder.

  10. Hannah says:

    Such a wonderful post with so much truth! Thank you for sharing your story and for giving us such an important reminder!

  11. Jessica says:

    I am glad that this post resonated with you all! This was one that I didn't want to write, but knew I had to for the sake of someone else who may now be standing where I stood then. Thank you. I hope you all have lovely holidays.

  12. Only You says:

    Yes, thank you for writing this Jessica. I read it with a lump in my throat. I don't remember how it came up, but a couple of weeks ago I suddenly had this realization of how I would feel if my parents were to die suddenly – I would lose them with this empty feeling of realizing there was still so much that I wanted to know about them, and it would be too late. What you wrote about living, breathing passively among our loved ones but not really truly knowing them really hit home. I feel that that describes my relationships with my family. Éverything you wrote is so true…thank you so much for taking something from your pain and sharing it with us.

    I'm so sorry for your loss and the continued loss that you go through year after year.

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