In my 4th grade writing class, we wrote about a special gift we received. My memory; Getting a pink, fuzzy robe for a Christmas gift. It’s funny, but I hadn’t thought about that Christmas in a long while. I had to reach back in my memory, so that I could use that story for my model writing.
I don’t remember much about that Christmas morning. Did we eat breakfast before we opened presents? Probably not. We had been married five years, and it was our first Christmas back in Longview since we moved home from Victoria. However, that bathrobe I remember. What an awful gift it was! I don’t think I wore it very long, yet it remains in my memory as one of the sweetest gifts.
That was the year I decided to do something about the married pounds I had put on. Strategically eating, I started loosing weight. Imagine my surprise when John gave me that frumpy gift. A bright Pepto-Bismol pink robe stared at me from the box that I recently ripped the paper off of. It was made of Terry cloth and had a belt and two large front pockets. My thrill level was about the same as if I had received a vacuum cleaner as a Christmas gift.
Modeling it, along with a pair of fuzzy pink slippers that were also a gift, I talked myself into enjoying this gift. I smiled and rubbed my hand along the soft robe. John let me keep that up for a full ten minutes, when he asked me to check the pockets. He laughed as I pulled out a small box. Inside, a beautiful opal necklace in the shape of a butterfly. The wings were opals with the body a gold color. I hadn’t had any real jewelry, except for my wedding and engagement rings. It brought tears to my eyes and a roar of laughter from John. He knew that robe was ugly and enjoyed watching me trying to like it.
That’s really all I can remember about that Christmas. I’m sure we had Christmas lunch at his parent’s home because that’s always what we did. I wish I could say that I still had that necklace, but I lost it within a year. The chain broke and I put it in an envelope until I could get it repaired. I lost the envelope somewhere.
John didn’t let me forget that I lost an expensive gift. (At that time in our marriage, it was expensive for us). It was years before he bought me another opal necklace. The new one was oval with small diamonds surrounding it. That one I kept up with, but there were times that I’d put it in a ‘safe’ place and I’d forget where I put it. It was always a relief when I’d find it again. Currently, I have it in a ‘safe’ place. I will stumble across it before long. : )
I wish John was here to give me a gift this Christmas. I love that I remembered that ugly robe. I love that I fell in love with him, so long ago.
It’s been thirteen years as I type this. 3:00 A.M. Cam and I said goodbye and held his hands as his body lost the war of ARDS. By 3:30, he was gone and his brother, Mike, had said his farewell. He is definitely in a beautiful place: missed, remembered, and still loved.
My heart still hurts. Grief is a wind. Sometimes, it is calm as it blows across us. Other times, it gusts and yet again, it roars blowing us off our feet. My grief is now a gentle wind. I feel it blowing my hair and sometimes, I sway. It reminds me that I’ve lost something treasured, and I mourn what once was and what we’ve missed having.
Like the butterfly necklace, I wish I had it back to treasure and wear. My memories are like my other opal necklace. I don’t wear them everyday. I keep them in a safe place. Occasionally, they come out of nowhere reminding me of the power of that gusty wind. The next day, I am gently caressed by a whisper of a wind, and I smile. The anniversaries are gusts.
There’s a song by Matthew West (https://youtu.be/LaHNHPgXqig) that tells exactly how I’m feeling about this Christmas and not being able to hug my son. “I’m fine… It’s fine… It sucks!!
Every time I hear someone say that they want to wait to take the vaccine to see how it affects other people before they take it … I have to hold my tongue. I know there are people whose health cannot take the shot medically, and I understand that, but that isn’t the majority of people. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in our country. There are people being bent and pounded by the wind. People who have joined the club of ‘Lost Loved Ones.’ People who I know wish they had had that option of a shot if the vaccine was available before they had to learn how to navigate the storm of grief.
Oh for a chance to get a pink, fuzzy robe again… to hear John’s laugh… the chance to spend Christmas with Cam in person, not over a computer screen on Christmas morning… to wrap my arms around my son in a tight hug… to never have had to learn the pressure of the wind. It’s fine… I’m fine…