Christmas With Death Equals Years Of Pain

Christmas With Death Equals Years Of Pain

Not all smiles and snow.
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Christmas is a time of year that has many mixed emotions in a lot of families these days. Especially in my family. As Christmas has just passed us by I figured why not share a little nonfiction piece that I wrote a while back about Christmas for my family. It is supposed to be about the birth of Jesus Christ, and how we get so blinded by this world and material things. Death is something that can have a great effect on a holiday for a family who doesn't want to say goodbye. I hope you enjoy it!

Christmas Snow

The wind whipped and howled against the lake house I had known for so long and all too well. White powder fell from the sky onto the ground and the famous Cross Lake. The frozen ice was spreading into the hearts of those in that house. The fire crackled in the corner as flames sprung up and down dancing their dangerous dance. I watched and waited for them to climb out of their boundaries and light the room a flame bringing heat to all of us, maybe even a sense of hope. I was small just a little seven-year-old, I watched as the snow fell behind the Christmas tree through the great bay windows. It was a white Christmas one I hadn’t seen in awhile.

I grabbed two of my cousins to go outside and build a snowman. My grandma came out of the back bedroom; she told us to say goodbye to grandpa before we went out back. It was now something we had to do before we went anywhere. He was doing fine until that last week, and the doctor’s told us his time was now limited. I can remember grabbing my grandfather’s wrinkly cold hand and whispering to him what I always said, it was our special secret. He squeezed my hand with the little amount of life still left in him.

I stepped out into the frigid air and sunk into the depths of the snow. My cousins skeptical of how we were to accomplish such an outrageous task. They stood back and watched as I packed in the snow. Then a call came from the house telling us we had to come in. It was my father’s voice that I had heard so many times before, but his tone said something was wrong. He sat us all down and slowly told us what was going on, salty drops of water poured out of my bright blue eyes as they faded to gray.

I looked down at my hands knowing they would no longer be held by his and he wouldn’t squeeze my hand ever again. That was our thing, he squeezed my hand as he twirled me around the house. As a little tot, I stood on his feet as he stepped around so I could learn, as I grew older I started to do the steps on my own and copy him. He taught me how to dance making each movement fluid and perfect, we mostly swayed back in forth and sometimes he would twirl me in a circle. He also squeezed my hand as he stood next to me at my first soccer game when he taught me how to ride a bike, and when I was learning to swim. I was growing up quickly and those squeezes were there for me, they meant everything was going to be ok and I was going to make it. Now, every big moment in my life I wait for someone to grab my hand and squeeze it, but my hand remains open when everything else has been slammed shut.

Our family no longer sings when carols fill the air, even as twelve years have gone by silence falls over us. My grandma had always asked what I used to tell my grandfather, I hadn’t said it to anyone for twelve years and the words still burned in the back of my throat. The family was separated lost in a world without happiness and joy as the holidays rolled in like a winter storm. My cousins that I built snowmen with are just distant memories, my grandmother and I communicate when we can. No one ever shared memories of him and I think that was the most painful of all.

I took a step towards healing this past Christmas with sharing a simple secret that no one else knew hoping that it would release some of the pain. I started with my grandma, telling her that all I whispered in my grandfather’s right ear: “I will dance with you in heaven, maybe not soon but someday.” I smile knowing those were the very last words he heard from me and I wish I could have said more, but as a seven-year-old life means something a whole lot different than it does twelve years later.

My eyes still find a shade of gray once and while as I sit in his green leather chair in the basement of my mother’s house, but the brightness comes when I think about all the time we had together. Pancreatic Cancer took him too soon, but he always told me to never have any regrets because someday I will dance with him again. Every time I find myself spinning in circles or swaying back and forth to the beat of the music I think of my best friend and how much I miss him.

The white powder no longer falls from the sky on Christmas for my family. There is never a snowman in the yard at the end of December, but the joy is finding its way back. As I shared my little secret my family began to understand that the memories weren’t there to make us cry, but to celebrate what we had with him. Today my family has begun to dance like the flames once did in that old cabin on the lake. I just hope that they all remember what grandpa taught them to do.

Cover Image Credit: The Optimist

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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5 Reasons It's Always Worth It To Be A Summer Camp Counselor

Summer camps have a special place in my heart, and I'm here to share that with you.

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Since I was 15, I have been a counselor at various summer camps. I have been a Program Aide at Girl Scout camp, a counselor at church camp, and a counselor at a day camp. These were all camps that I attended as a kid, so they already had a special place in my heart when I got a chance to work at them.

After being a camp counselor for five years, there are things that I have learned on the job that has helped me in life. Being a counselor has also helped me grow as a person. It's helped me gain skills that I don't think I would have learned in other jobs. I'm here to share what I love about the job of being a camp counselor.

1. You get to be the leader/role model

As a kid, there were many counselors in my life that I looked up to. They were people that I strived to be alike in my life, but now that I'm older, I get to be that person for the kid. What I say and do will influence how the kids around me act. That comes with a lot of stress, but it's also empowering. You can be a positive influence in a kids life, and hopefully, teach them important life lessons.

2. You can be your goofy self

One thing that I love about working with kids is that I can be silly around them. Kids won't judge you for being silly because they're silly right alongside you. They feed off your energy, and it can help them explore the world around them through communication. Plus, when was it not fun to be silly?

3. You get to hang out with kids all day

This reason might turn people off from the job, but it's a part of why I love being a counselor. Hanging out with kids tires me out at times, but they also motivate me to keep going. They're little balls of energy, and I feed off of other people's energies well. The kids also help me feel youthful and like nothing matters. Everything is fun to them; they help me keep a positive outlook on life.

4. Your coworkers become your best friends

Working at a summer camp can be difficult at times. It's emotionally and physically draining as well. But having a good support team helps with that. The counselors that I have worked with in the past have become my best friends, and I still stay in touch with some. They're there for you when no one else is, and they understand what you're going through. You know that their feelings for you are genuine, and they want to help as much as they can.

5. You get to watch the kids grow

Over the summer, I get to see the same kids every week at my camp. I get to see them grow as people over the summer and it's a rewarding experience knowing that I was able to help them. Watching them become leaders and grow into little helpers by the end of the summer is one of my favorite things.

I'm excited to have the opportunity to work at a summer camp again this year. I know that it'll provide an opportunity to grow as a person and I can't wait to see my favorite kids again.

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