This image of our Hearts of Hope candles was posted on our Facebook page on Thanksgiving. Over 1800 people viewed this post. I hope it was comforting. I hope those who were grieving the loss of a loved one or missing a distant relative or had a piece of their heart off serving in the military found a ray of hope in the words and image.
Grieving people, people whose family are far away, people who have little or no family can find the upcoming holiday season to be more of a gauntlet-a challenge, a fight to get to the end. Getting through the gatherings of family and friends, the gift-giving, joyful faces, sweet songs on the radio, laughter and cheers can be nearly unbearable when you are missing a loved one.
For our family, the memories start the first day of December with World AIDS Day. I remember sweet, spoiled Chris, my son’s best bud. Just barely reaching the age of double digits and his life was cut short by AIDS. Remembering and wondering who he’d be today. Or the huge smile Fola seemed to have on her face every time you looked at her. I miss that smile. The trees planted in their memory grow and bloom and remind me … of their life.
As soon as there is snow on the ground and carols on the radio I begin remembering the first Christmas after my dad died, it was Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and Bing Crosby’s “I’ll be Home for Christmas” that sent tears welling up in my eyes. It was putting his ornaments on our tree with our five year old, knowing she would have so few memories of her grandfather. It has been twenty years since that first Christmas and still I remember, how I felt, how much I still had to say, how much I miss him. That five year old is married now; I know my dad would love her husband so much….
Memories and holidays go together like Santa Claus and cookies, like turkey and gravy, like laughter and tears. We remember and our memories are bittersweet. Full of what ifs and if onlys during this time of year especially.
We remember how we loved you, till your death – and still we celebrate – for you are with us here – we remember – we celebrate – we believe.
We will remember, they are not forgotten.
We will celebrate – life and the joy of traditions and holidays continue.
We will believe – our hope lives on in our memories.
Remember, celebrate and believe this holiday season.