As Christmas draws near, my thoughts turn to my father. How he loved Christmas. Daddy loved baking his Christmas goodies to deliver to friends, all decked out in his Santa hat. He loved attending the candlelight service on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Epiphany in Amherst, Virginia. He loved his fluffy, fat pine tree, with the big, vintage, colored Christmas lightbulbs. Daddy was the epitome of Christmas.
|Heading to church with Granddaddy and Grandma Jackie, Amherst, Virginia.|
Yesterday I was struck by this quote, attributed to J.W.A.
"Grief, I've learned, is really love. It's all the love you want to give, but cannot give. The more you loved someone, the more you grieve. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and that part of your chest that gets empty and hollow feeling. The happiness of love turns to sadness when unspent. Grief is just love with no place to go." -JWA
My grief is my love for Daddy with no place to go. That's exactly it. All of that love I carry for him is stuck in my heart, and it makes my heart sad to be so full of love that can't be shared with him here any more.
I cried when I read the words. Tears fell freely as I realized that this is how my grief feels to me.
Maybe it feels that way to you, too.
Honestly, I thought it would be a lot easier by now. This Christmas will be our fourth Christmas without that giant of a man. I was shocked to realize it has been that long. There are days when I am caught off guard with a sweet memory that moves me to tears.
I'm so glad for the time we had with Dad. I cherish that last phone call the morning of the day he passed away. I see my dad in every gingerbread man, in every loaf of German Stöllen, in every dogwood tree, in every cardinal. December will always be a very special month because there are so many holiday sights and sounds that trigger special memories of Daddy.
Grieving doesn't seem to have a time limit, but I think I'm okay with that. Over time, it is evolving. At first, my tears seemed angry and full of anguish. Then there were tears of hopelessness. And for a time, I couldn't even cry; I just felt numb. Now, when I cry, the tears feel softer and they release pent-up emotions.
|Daddy and Jackie with all four of us kids.|
I love you, Daddy. I always will.
|A Christmas long past, with my brother Danny and Daddy.|
|Granddaddy shipped his Gingerbread men to Utah from Virginia.|
|Dad delivered Christmas goodies to his friends at the gym.|
(Photo credit: Natalie Mayhew Beidler)
|Daddy's Gingerbread Cookies were always a special treat. (Photo Credit: Natalie Beidler Mayhew)|
|If you were lucky enough to be a recipient of Daddy's German Stöllen bread, you knew you were in his inner circle of friends. (Photo credit: Natalie Beilder Mayhew)|
|Old Spice will always remind me of Daddy. |
(Photo Credit: Natalie Beidler Mayhew)