Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Christmas and Losses, 2012

I originally planned a happy post for Christmas.  In light of the events that occurred on Friday, December 14, 2012, I find myself unable to do so.  I apologize in advance for the seriousness and length of this post.

- By Cindi

As most know, I am a parent.  My husband and I raised three boys, ages 24, 21 and 18.  I remember the joy of watching my boys as time raced toward Christmas morning.  If there were sales papers around, it was common to find specific toys circled and the papers left where Mom or Dad would easily find them (next to the coffee pot for me and the remote control for him).  Christmas has always been a big deal in my house.  Two of my sons no longer live at home but they still spend every Christmas Eve with us.  I know this will change as they all find wives and have children of their own.  Until then, I will cherish these days just as I did when they were younger and asking Santa for tonka trucks and footballs.

There are no words to describe the sadness I feel for the parents who are now unable to spend Christmas morning with their precious children and other family members because of the senseless tragedy that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday, December 14, 2012.  They will never again be able to experience the joy on their child's face at the exact moment they see what Santa left under the tree.  My sons are my entire world.  I could not imagine a world without them.  Within minutes of the news breaking in regards to the tragedy, each one of my sons called... just to tell me they love me.  They know me.  They knew that I would be sitting here with my heart breaking along with the rest of the world.  They knew I would need to hear their voices and to connect with them.  Those calls were precious to me because they knew that that was what I needed at that time... to hear the voices of my children.... the children that I would give my life for without hesitation.

December 25th will be exactly three years and six months since we lost my beloved sister, Sherri.  Sherri was 44 when she died to my 42.  She was not just a sister to me.  She was my best friend and I hers. It wasn't always that way as we had many battles growing up.  We fought as sisters are known to do.  We were so much alike that it was difficult to live under the same roof without wanting to strangle the other at times.  She was only a year and eleven months older than me which also added to our problems.  But no matter what, we were there for each other always. Sherri was a tiny, little thing at 4'11" to my 5' 1 1/2" (yes, that half inch is very important).  I called her little sister to annoy her because I was the tall one in the family.  And annoy her it did.  Fun times. :)  Years later, the little sister took on a new meaning when I stepped into the role of big sister for reasons I will not go into here.  When Sherri got married and moved out of the house, she and I became the closest of friends.  We were inseparable as the years went on.  I have never been closer to another person and I know she felt the same.

Unlike some who will go on about how wonderful someone was after they are gone, I told everyone long before... long before I even knew she was ill.  She was a generous person who would not hesitate to give someone her last dollar if they needed it.  That was Sherri.  I have never met a person who did not absolutely adore her. She took in teens who were kicked out of their homes for their sexual orientation or other reasons.  She was known as the "cute little cat lady" because she never saw an abandoned cat that she did not adopt.  She was known to giggle often and she was the most forgiving person I have ever met.  She was my best friend.

Losing my sister turned my world upside down.  There was no getting over it as some actually had the nerve to say a few short weeks later.  For me, there was no dealing with it.  A part of me died along with Sherri.  I was forced into a hell that I had no hope of crawling out of at the time.  Only by the support of my husband and sons was I able to get out of bed each morning.  When others needed me to help them through it, I was unable to do so even though I am considered the strong one in the family.  I couldn't take care of myself so how could I be there for others?  I still live that hell three and a half years later only not to the same extreme.  Time does help. The pain never goes away but things do get better.  I still have what I call my mini-breakdowns on occasion... more so during the holidays.  But I survived it.  I don't know how but I did.  Perhaps the only thing that truly got me through the loss was knowing I could go to bed every night of my life knowing that my sister died knowing that I loved her dearly and that there was no unfinished business between us.  Other family members, unfortunately, cannot say the same.

On Christmas morning I will do as I do every year and get up long before everyone else.  I will walk outside with my coffee and have a little cry.  I will shed those tears for the loss of my sister and  for those parents and family members who will never spend another Christmas morning with their loved ones after the events of December 14th.  I will do this and then I will go back inside, happy face in place, to spend time with my husband and sons.  I will do this because life must go on.  The pain never goes away and some days are worse than others... but life still goes on.  
Hug your child a little tighter.  Tell your spouse or partner you love them... just because.  Catch up with old friends that you have been meaning to contact but could never find the time.  Make it.  Do this because you don't know what the next day may bring.  I woke up on Saturday, July 25, 2009 as normal.  I went to bed that night knowing that my life would never be the same again.  The same applies to those lost on December 14th.  Sherri died of natural causes.  Those innocent victims were killed by a disturbed individual.  I think about losing Sherri and I could not imagine how it would be if her death was as a result of violence.  I am not sure I would have survived emotionally knowing that someone had intentionally taken her away from us.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I send great wishes for a happy New Year.  If you make resolutions, I hope you follow through.  My birthday is a few days after the 1st of the year so I make goals in hopes of meeting them before the next one rolls around.  I did this last year and I met a goal I have had since I was a child.  I wish the same for all.

    Merry Christmas from me to you.



  1. Well that's it. I'm officially bawling. That is the most beautiful, from the heart piece of writing, Cindi. I also carry a piece of Sherri in my heart as I've grown to know her through you and your vivid stories about her and her generous spirit. That is a wonderful thing. To keep someone's memory alive in good ways, with (mostly) good memories because their life meant so much to you.
    Always let the ones you love know you love them, because life IS short and sometimes we forget. xx

    1. You and Sherri would have been friends. I don't doubt that. She would have fallen in love with your family as I have. She was truly a wonderful person. Most folks use those words when someone is gone. My point is don't wait because you never know what will happen from day to day. Sherri and I never ended a phone conversation without saying "I love you, sister." Those weren't just words and we both knew this. She died knowing that her baby sister loved her unconditionally. I thank God for the time we had together. It's a sad situation because others in the family missed out... big time. They have to live with that for the rest of their lives. I want to be sad for them but I'm not at that point just yet. I'm not as forgiving as Sherri was.

      Thanks for your kind words and for being there during the few times I've had those "mini-breakdown moments" recently. You are a dear friend and I appreciate you more than you could know.

    2. You can feel so much more at peace because you left nothing unsaid. So many don't do that or don't get a chance to do that. Sherri and I would have led you astray together....in the best possible way of course, lol
      I'm good at listening my friend, as are you.

    3. That is really what got me through it I believe... knowing there was nothing left unsaid and that our relationship was solid right until the end. I couldn't have done this even a year ago. I was not in a good place. I have come a very long way since then.

      No doubt the two of you would have led me astray. The last face-to-face we had she was giggling because she got "Good girl CK" to say something that little CK would not normally have said.. :) You know how I am and you know what she meant.

      Again, thank you.