Grief, Loss, Jealousy and Holidays.
Today I was scrolling Facebook and trolling people's lives. I have a lot of cousins. My Dad had 12 siblings so when I say I have a lot of cousins I probably have 10 more cousins than the person you know with a lot of cousins....I am Facebook friends with a lot of cousins and a lot of my Dad's siblings (aka Aunts and Uncles).
My Dad is dead.
He died over 9 years ago.
My grief is matured. It is not usually raw. I can talk about him some days with ease, joy, and laughter. I can pick at his foibles and jest at his weaknesses. I also can find myself reflective and weepy at the drop of a hat if the tone, the listening ear and the tenor of it all is right. My missing him can be raw, aching and sometimes feverish. Thus is grief.
But today, trolling the lives of cousins, holidays, uncles aunts even friends and colleagues I am overwhelmed by jealousy and by the weepy raw grief today. Not a single one of my Dad's siblings has died. I don't want them too, that's not the idea but the loneliness of being the family that is cut off from being a "Doll" is hard. Even on the few times I have seen my Aunts and Uncles they don't talk about Him. It's sometimes like he never existed. (The real truth is that they don't know how to talk about it and so rather than stirring up emotions just avoid it- but in doing so they avoid what feels like my validation to be a family member and my desperate need to not be alone in my love for him- but that's my minister self talking not my Father's daughter.)
Had my Father lived I know that our holidays would have flexed and changed to include new family members and grandchildren. It might have involved annual travel on my parents part or sticking close to home. It might have meant gathering together or not. I don't know, and there is no particular tradition that I desperately miss, I just miss the opportunity to know. In the couple of years before He died I loved watching my parents emerge from the hectic years of raising kids into (from my vantage point) a place of rediscovered love. I loved watching my Dad with my nephew; the way that he made himself present I am in awe of. I love the way that he cooked eggs in bacon grease, and used bizarre and ingenious things to solve all problems.
I grieve, mourn, cry out that this holiday does not get the unambivalent joy that we think holidays should posses. My worst self is angry at my cousins and aunts and uncles for their own privilege and feeling abandoned in my own need to stay connected. I wallow in the loss of security for my other family members for the financial, emotional and whatever else my Dad offered them...
So what kind of a post is this for Christmas Eve? Isn't this the day of anticipation and waiting until sunset when we can hear the proclamation of the gospel that God has come to be among people in a radical way? Yes it is. It is about the anticipation of the day when our grief ends. When we not only believe in our lives of faith in the incarnation, but a time when the kingdom of God is so deeply alive and present that the line between life and death, love and grief, jealousy and hope is so unclear that the incarnation is reality.
Merry Christmas, to those of you who sit in your grief however lightly however tenderly.