Christmas With Death Equals Years Of Pain

Christmas With Death Equals Years Of Pain

Not all smiles and snow.

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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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.

Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

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The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.

Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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14 Things I Did This Season To Cope With My Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD is a real thing.


Seasonal Affective Disorder affects many people. I promise it is a real thing. The Mayo Clinic defines SAD as "A mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year." Mine comes in the dead of winter. So this winter, I wrote down a couple of things that made me feel better.

1. Take a hot shower/bath

All the steam in the bathroom and the heat from the water soothes the soul for real.

2. Get out of bed 

Try and wake up earlier than usual.

3. Buy a happy lamp

They mimic sunlight but without the UV rays.

4. Make your bed everyday

One small accomplishment everyday.

5. Sit in your living room as opposed to your bed room

6. Eat healthier 

7. Do one small thing for yourself everyday

Get a cup of coffee or go for a walk.

8. Exercise 

I hate it as much as the next person but it does help.

9. Go out with friends 

I know sitting at home may be ideal but it's nice to be surrounded by people who love you.

10. When you're sad, let yourself be sad

Cry, listen to sad music, do what you gotta do.

11. Ask for help

Let people know what you're going through. It's ok.

12. Take care of yourself

Put on a facemask. Paint your nails.

13. Write about it

14. Try and plan a trip to a warm place with sun

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