First and foremost, let met say that I have an awesome family that I know loves and cares for me very much. I realize this fact and value it beyond most anything else. That is not what this post is about.
These are the first holidays I have spent without my family, the family that I was born into, my birth family. As many of you know, my brother passed in April, leaving me as the only remaining member of the original nuclear family. It’s a feeling I could not have truly anticipated nor can I aptly describe. And to say I had been approaching the holidays with trepidation would be an understatement. This would be the first time in my 57 years I spent the holidays without any of them and it left a large dark void in my soul that simmered just under the surface. The thought wasn’t constantly in my mind but it was never far away. There was always some small knick knack or smell or tradition or etc... that reminded of them. I have plenty of folks to share those memories with but, some of the most personal aren’t intimate to them, they weren’t there, they can’t share my loss on the same level. I hope I’m not being selfish or conceited in saying that but I don’t think I would be able to truly understand or share your childhood memories intimately even if I had known you most of your life.
Slowly the holidays passed and we, as a family, celebrated them with our own traditions. The ones that my own family will always remember and will someday perhaps remember fondly as I do mine now. As the days passed I began to understand just how much of my parents and my brother were still with me in my children, in my niece, in my granddaughter, in the old family traditions I had unknowingly slipped into our current family traditions. I began to realize that I wasn’t as alone in this world as I thought I was. My family was still all around me, surrounding me with the warmth of their memories and love and the rich heritage they had imparted upon me and I now hoped to continue with the next generations.
My deepest fear now in this area is the day I can no longer remember any of them. I think this will be worse than realizing they are all gone. Although, for me, at that point, it will make little difference. I’m thinking in my current frame of mind and the big picture. Maybe I’m overthinking it, I don’t know. I do know I came out of my first holidays without any of my birth family relatively stronger, with a better sense of self and family. And, as my time is limited, both cognitively and physically, this means a great deal to me at this point. I intend it to improve my attitudes and relationships toward my family. Goodness knows they deserve it.
I sincerely hope your holidays were all you hoped for and you have a healthier and happier new year!