When Christmas Seemed to Have Slipped Away...

As I sit here listening to a rainstorm this morning I realize that Christmas has already slipped away and another year has welcomed us in.  This year Christmas just didn't seem the same for me.  Oh, the entire family was here, the Christmas tree was lit up and the little ones ran around anxiously awaiting the arrival of the big man in the red suit.  But for me, this year was different.

I suppose I can blame part of my woes on being sick for almost the entire holiday season.  Beginning in November I was struck with an awful respiratory infection that hung around for about a month.  I took so many medications that eventually I had some pretty serious side effects from them but I managed to push through.  I also had a bone graft done in preparation for a dental implant and on top of that I got the stomach flu.  Yep...I think that alone was plenty to keep me from feeling very festive.  And is a somewhat lame excuse to ignoring the blog for quite a while.  I did, however, find time while stuck inside to knit quite a bit and do some watercoloring.  Enough that some folks got handmade gifts from me this year, which hasn't happened in quite a while.

Even with all of the sickness that I experienced this year, I still managed to get the decorations up, attended the church Christmas musical and finish my shopping early (Thank you, Internet shopping!).  I was feeling like things were going to be OK until my mother, who is 88 years old, began having some health issues.  The week before Christmas found us in the doctor's office having some tests on her foot which appeared to have a bone infection.  She was in terrible pain and on the 23rd (the same day that Caitlin and her crew arrived), we were referred to a surgeon about the condition, which at this point looked pretty bleak.

Knowing that we would not be able to get in to see the surgeon until after Christmas, we made our plans for the holiday.  My sister would take my mother to celebrate with her kids and grandkids on the 23rd and I would celebrate with her on Christmas Day with my children and grandchildren.  It was all set; that was the plan.  Well, you know how plans go sometimes.  Often times they do not go as we plan.  And that is exactly what happened this year.

My entire family was able to attend Christmas Eve church service with me and I felt ahead of the game for the moment.  I had made my dressing and several other items for Christmas lunch at my house.  All that was left to do was leave cookies and milk by the fireplace for Santa and fill the stockings.

Christmas morning was exciting as Caitlin's kids woke up and began to see what Santa had left under the tree.  We got text messages and face time from the others across town, drove around the corner to see what David's boy had gotten.  The day actually started out pretty good.  I told my mother to expect a call from me around 10:30 to awake her and someone would come pick her up around noon;  She was excited to see all of the little kids.

I rang her only to find that she was in terrible pain with her foot and could not get out of the bed.  She would not be able to come out for Christmas Day and hospice would have to be called to start her on a stronger pain medication.

My mother's condition did not improve and the Monday following Christmas she was hospitalized.  On Tuesday she was transported to the emergency room of another hospital and admitted into ICU.  For five days she stayed there with not only problems with her foot and circulation but now A-Fib and gastric bleeding issues.

Definitely not the holiday I had planned for.  But sometimes that's the way life is.  We think we have it all planned and figured out and BAM!  It hits us full force in the face.  Which eventually causes us to reflect.  And reflection can be a good thing but also a painful one.  It's when we reflect that we can see more clearly what is happening and what we can or cannot do about it.  I was so exhausted, both mentally and physically, trying to just put the puzzle pieces together.  Trying to "fix" things (if only in my mind...).  Not knowing where this journey was leading me but pretty sure I didn't want to go there.  And that's when I stopped.  And believe me, it's sorta difficult to stop my mind once it gets going.  But I stopped and meditated.  I went to church on Sunday, the first day of the new year.  And the pastor emphasized having some quite time every day.  I had previously done this but once things got all caught up in a whirlwind of craziness it seemed I had no time for quiet time.  I know, sad, right?  Instead of giving my problems and worries over the God, I was trying to solve them myself.  Laughable, huh?  I mean, I could continue to spin my wheels getting nowhere or I could just surrender everything.  And once I decided to do that my whole mindset changed.  Things didn't seem so desolate any more because I wasn't going to worry about things I couldn't change.

Giving my worries over to God was a really big thing for me.  Because I am a "fixer".  I like to examine the situation and figure out what's best for the person in question and then bend their will to mine.  Yes...I really did say that.  Because deep down inside I suppose I think I always know best.  But I don't.  I know what I think is best but often times we just have to let people make their own decisions even if we don't think they're the best ones.  It's called letting go.

My mother is still in the hospital and it has taken me all week long to just get this one post out.  She has had vascular surgery on one leg and we are waiting to see how effective that will be.  Tomorrow she will be having a cardioversion to shock her heart back into rhythm and I truly expect that she will go home into hospice once more in a couple of days.

If you're not there yet, I'm just going to give you forewarning; watching your parents grow old and begin to have failing health is hard.  No really...it's something you never expected whenever you were a child and they were taking care of you or a teenager fighting for your independence.  You want to help them and do what's best for them all the while they are now fighting you to keep their own independence.  It's not a place you are going to want to be but it's coming.  And so I encourage you to hold on tight because it's going to test your strength more than you will ever expect.

And so now you know why I think Christmas seemed to slip away from me this year.  The festiveness of the season may have slipped away but the reason for the holiday did not.  It's a gift that I rediscovered a few days afterwards.  It's the gift of letting go and allowing God to take control for me...

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