Tomorrow is the first day of December and today I am putting away all the Fall Decorations, carefully replacing pumpkins and turkeys with snowmen and Santa's. I brought out the Nativity a couple of weeks ago as we prepare for the season of celebrating the birth of Jesus. Bringing it out early helps me focus on the real reason that we celebrate with all this red, green, and glitter.
As I thought about the passing of this season, and gave thought to writing a note - to you - and to myself, I realize that November was full of pain and full of joy. Sometimes the same week, the same day, and even the same moment brought feelings that did not go together in my mind but I could not separate them in my heart.
Bob, my husband's father, and my father-in-law of almost 30 years, passed away after a difficult battle with cancer. Joy and pain. He was hurting and tired. He left and we were left hurting and tired. Being with family helped with the pain, the fullness that I felt being embraced by love and comfort. But there was also pain involved in the one family member that remained distant and hurt, not comforted by her family.
Similary, my friend at work, who passed away suddenly after surgery. She was not ill, she was not old. She had her gall bladder removed and never came back. Her office next to mine, a constant reminder. And one coworker who's self centered-ness challenged my Christ-like-ness in a way I have not experienced before. Even the thought of going back to the office tomorrow is painful and dreadful. The joy is in knowing that He is with me.
And then the trip to Washington DC, to visit my son and his girlfriend. To meet her parents. To see his home and the places he spends his time. Joy in being able to be there, to sit with him, to eat with him, to hug on him. Sadness at the distance between us, geographically, and that time is limited and short. It was even more pronounced in my mind and heart being more aware of how quickly things can change.
My birthday is in November. A very special friend and I went to see Coldplay in concert. It was a tremendous treat. My husband had to travel on my actual birthday, and knowing that our family celebration would fall on a different day, to go see one of my favorite bands with one of my favorite friends brought much joy. I could hear, see, sing, and dance! How blessed. But it was also the first birthday in many years that I did not hear from my former best friend. We used to share this time as her birthday is just a few days later. Her silence a reminder of the depth of her pain. I sent her a card via internet, which went unopened by her. Her rejection is painful and unlike Christ. I keep praying.
To help with the pain, I joyfully accepted the opportunity to spend time with a friend, who I love to spend time with and who knows the pain I feel. We took our daughters, who are friends, out to dinner and the movie High School Musical. We laughed and sang and ate and shopped. I remembered that God will not leave me in my pain but help me move on. This joy took place on the (painful) birthday of my old friend.
To end the November that I will always remember with mixed emotion - Thanksgiving. It was beautiful and it was ugly. Holes in the photographs that I didn't want to take. Sadness in eyes that I didn't want to see. But joy in the babies, the young one's growing up, the way that I look at them now like I once was. Thankful but sad.
I spend the day, preparing my home, preparing my heart, allowing time to process and time to heal as we move into this "most wonderful time of the year."
I pray and hope for peace.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace