Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

True Loss

I wrote previously in “Scrooge 2014” about the bad Karma I have during this time of year.  I concluded the post about that I have discovered over those forty years, is how much I can take, how to survive the holidays (and the events that make them more difficult, but also there will be a next year.

One of my greatest faults, and is most likely a result of the survivor guilt I deal with daily courtesy of my battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is that I never leave myself room to acknowledge or allow myself, to suffer grief or pain.  My late brother-in-law who passed away from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) often told me that just because his prognosis was worse than mine, did not mean that the health issues we both struggled were any less real or painful than the others.  And common sense would cause us to agree.

But when it comes to the loss I am going to experience this season, I will be taking the same path as I always do.  Someone will always have it worse than me, and therefore who am I to complain about it.  I will do everything in my power to not allow this custody situation to happen next year.  I will spend time with my daughters next year.  At worst, I plan to only lose this one year.

For others, their loss is permanent, no chance of ever getting it back, their loved ones gone forever, except in spirit, and that is very little consolation, especially during the Christmas holiday season, what is supposed to be the most joyous, now faced with the first year without someone close to them the loss I am going to be experiencing, in not being with my children during this holiday season for the first time ever.  Let me be clear, the post was nothing more than a reflection of what I have been through over four decades.

Last week, a tragedy beyond description occurred back in my hometown in Pennsylvania.  A decorated war veteran, who happened to be going through a tumultuous domestic issue, murdered his ex-wife, her mother, her grandmother, a teenage niece and parents while wounding a teenage nephew, before committing suicide himself.  Now, his two children, near the same age as my daughters are orphans, a teenage boy is orphaned, but now without his father, is the infant of the father who committed this awful act.  Seven dead, and four children now left without a parent, or parents.  While everyone tries to put the pieces together of what happened and why, the loss remains and is permanent.

For me personally, there are two families that are also dealing with an unimaginable loss, each suffering the loss of their only sons.  One young man, mid 20’s, was killed after being involved in a car accident.  The other, died from complications from treatments received which actually cured him of his cancer at the age of 24.  Both of these families are going through this holiday season for the first time without their sons, also while trying to make sense of why.

This will be the first Christmas with my father.  I did not get to see him much during my childhood, but I spent the second half of my life, never missing one Christmas morning with him, or enjoying the time that he spent with my daughters.

My heart goes out to anyone who is dealing with loss this Christmas season, not just a “first Christmas.”  And also, not just for a physical loss.  Those facing severe health crisis with unknown futures also suffer loss, and year after year, often face flashbacks, reminding them of the pain faced during this time.  It can be last year, or ten years ago.  Many times, that feeling of loss never goes away.

But as someone told me recently, it is during a time like this, during any loss, that you have to dig down deep, and cling to any faith you have, whatever your religion or beliefs.  It is not just the actual loss that has been taken away from you, but so much more is trying to be taken away from you, by an opposing force (again, no matter what your faith), and it is important that you cling to the faith that has stood by you time and time again, no matter how many times you have been knocked down or kicked in the teeth.

Yes, a “Blue Christmas” is more common than many realize, or may never have experienced.  For those who are in that place right now, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

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