A few days before Christmas, I ran to pick up a few items at the grocery store. As I was waiting in the checkout line, I listened in on a conversation between two ladies who expectantly met at the store. They exchanged pleasantries, wishing each other a happy holiday and then one woman started to complain. It is a usual conversation that you could hear anywhere during the month of December. She was trying to make everything perfect, grabbing gifts for her kids, complaining at how crazy it was and “wishing it would just stop”.
That could have been me 4 years ago, complaining about all the things to do, the frantic pace of it all. And now, now I long for it to be hectic, for that frenzied pace, for all that noise, that beautiful frantic noise.
It is so hard to believe that this year is the 3rd Christmas without Julia. The quiet is overwhelming. Some of the quietness is self-imposed. I stay off of social media, avoiding the pictures of “what could-have-beens”. But then at times, the world is just silent.
Christmas morning used to bring the chatter of voices and laughter through the tearing of the Christmas wrappings. Now, it is quiet. I drink my coffee as everyone sleeps; the boys, adults now, enjoying the extra hours of slumber that comes with a winter vacation from work. The house is silent.
As like every other day, I begin the day with thoughts of Julia. I miss her more than anyone could ever imagine. There are still tears, but there are also smiles now. I am blessed with wonderful memories of my “best girl”.
As I sip on my coffee, I begin to talk to Julia – not out loud, but in my thoughts. “I miss you Julia…do you know that? I hope you know how much you are loved, are still loved…”.
“How are you Julia?”
And there, from deep in my memories, I hear that little voice with her usual response… “I’m grrreat”. (No typo there, Julia always stressed the “grrr”, stretching out the word to two syllables).
For those that knew Julia, you will remember that if you asked her how she was, the response was never just an “okay”. Julia most likely responded “I’m grrrreat!”, stated with assured enthusiasm and joyful energy. Even on her most difficult days, after surgeries when she was obviously in pain, she would still respond “I’m good”. Julia’s optimism was palpable.
I think of her boundless joy, her love of life and her caring heart. And I smile, because once again, from my thought, these memories, Julia has reminded me to be happy.
In the quietness of this Christmas morning came a memory and with it my mantra for the holidays.
So to each of you, I wish you a Happy New Year –a year full of beautiful frantic noise, of countless hectic activities, and boundless joy.
And for me, don’t be afraid to ask how I am – “I’m grrreat”.