Christmas day dawned as it always has for the last five years of my life. But, something was about to happen that I was not anticipating nor expecting. As I drove to my oldest daughter’s house for her annual Christmas brunch, I waited for those feelings of great sadness to take their place in my heart. Nothing. When I entered the house and was surrounded with loved ones, again, I looked for grief to hit me. Yet, I felt nothing but peace.
As the day wore on with conversation, laughter, more food, and games, I found myself wondering when that friend that has been with me for so long was going to join me. Time came to leave and I got into my car for the drive home. Normally this is when I give way to tears and allow all the emotions that I have been holding inside to come out. But, again, nothing happened.
At first I questioned what was happening and why I wasn’t feeling sad like I usually do – missing my husband and both of my parents especially on Christmas day. Then I began to feel strange because I realized that I was actually missing the sadness that I always felt. It felt like the lack of it was almost a betrayal. How could I feel peace and contentment without them?
This was all totally unexpected. Yes, I’d been told by other widows further down the road that this time would come, but to be honest with you, I found it very hard to believe. Yet, for this one day when families gather together to celebrate the birth of Christ, my sadness had silently and unexpectedly crept to the back recesses of my heart.
Will sadness and grief stay there? I have a feeling that they didn’t open the back door and make a complete exit. From what I am told, they will come back to the forefront from time to time and again, it will be unexpected. Am I finished grieving? No. I don’t believe that ever happens. When you have loved much and deeply, you grieve much and deeply as you learn to live with grief. But, for now, something has shifted in my grief journey. Just like that day so many years ago when Christ was born and peace was introduced to the world in that moment, peace was reintroduced to me on Christmas day.
An unexpected gift. A gift I never thought I’d receive. A gift that surprised and puzzled me. A gift that I know that my husband and parents would want for me. A welcomed gift. A gift that will encourage the hearts of other widows who are still in that place of great sadness. A gift that only God could give.
My widow friends, do you remember the day that sadness retreated to the back of your heart and you felt that unexpected peace and contentment?