Oh man, this holiday season is going to be tough. In part because, as I mentioned before, my grief over Rudy seems to be more vivid this second year without him…the first year was cluttered with so much grief that it was hard for me to compartmentalize the pain…this year my grief is easier to distinguish…this year grief over Rudy is specific and deeply felt. The other reason this season is going to be a challenge is that it’s our first “real” Christmas without Rudy. You may recall that last year at this time our community was held captive by what turned out to be the largest wild fire in California history at the time…schools closed, many local businesses closed, whole communities evacuated and all the holiday festivities we typically participated in were cancelled. We basically hunkered down at home and stayed put. It was a hard time, for sure, but it was so far from what was familiar that it kind of just added to the clutter.
Thankfully our community is moving forward & rebuilding and with the much needed rain we’ve gotten this week, there is no threat of a fire this year…life around us is moving on and holiday fun has returned. It’s a good thing but Rudy’s absence in the spaces he used to occupy in all our familiar Christmas fun is so totally obvious. It’s gaping wide and filled with an ache that is so, so deep. I missed him last night at the SBRM Staff Christmas Party and I’m already missing how ever single day in December used to be filled with some holiday celebration or preparation whether is was for church or school or the rescue mission and how Rudy was my constant companion in it all. Ugh!
That being said, I’ve also been thinking about some pretty bold heart-to-heart conversations I’ve had with a few friends in the last year about the hope of seeing Rudy in heaven some day. I was reminded of it again yesterday while watching the State Funeral Service for President G.H.W. Bush and the many references made about his finally being with his beloved daughter Robin who died of leukemia when she was 3 years old. To be honest, that’s a tricky concept for me and runs the risk of being over-simplified when referenced as a potential “silver lining”. As much as I miss Rudy now and know, wholeheartedly, that when the time comes for me to be reunited with him, it will be an amazing experience, that reality holds little comfort for me at this stage in the game. I wish I could say it brings me peace on some level but it doesn’t because I really don’t want to die in my 50s and leave the rest of my family. The other reality that plays into this for me is that my relationship with Rudy was defined largely as his caretaker and his cognitive disabilities limited the way we interacted on many levels…it blows my mind to think that so much of what our relationship was based on won’t even exist in heaven. I know I’ll recognize the love we shared but it will be a very different relationship in the eternal realms and it’s hard for my small, temporal mind to grasp the comfort in that right now. Does that make any sense?
What a strange mix of thoughts and feelings. Welcome to my twisted world!
Bottom line? Today hurts. And there is a lot of piercing Christmas cheer ahead that I want to push through and stomach because I don’t feel the freedom to step back. If this were a different kind of grief journey, I would have no problem saying “This is hurting a little too much right now. I’m gonna choose to step back this year, take a break and reengage next year”. Instead, there’s a need to be present in it all this year (no matter how emotionally crippled I may be) because I feel the constant movement of that damn hour glass…no time-outs, no stepping back to take a breath, no reprieve, no chance of remission. Aw man, I better stop before I get any further down this rabbit hole. You get the idea…it’s complicated.
Your continued prayer is so greatly appreciated. I think I’ll let you sort out the above and pray as God leads you to pray rather than share a list. Today kind of feels like one of those Moses moments when our family needs the faithful to do the hard work of holding our arms up for us…not due to a lack of faith, just a lack of energy. 😉
Rudy’s smile always makes me smile so to close this post, here are some memorable moments we shared with our boy our last December together in 2016..