Christmas - the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas - the saddest time of the year. For many, the season holds different meaning. Some fall to one side, some to the other, with many maybe sprinkled somewhere between.
For all of my life before Aviana, I without question, fell on the side of 'the most wonderful time of the year.' I certainly thought about the less fortunate. I donated to food banks, Toys for Tots, thought briefly about the real meaning of the season, but then...I was back to the joy filled days of my own family. I hadn't a clue of what a slighted holiday really felt like.
Once Aviana was hurt, I was served a healthy dose of true grief during the holidays. I was surrounded in sadness. I saw the world in all its holiday glory - candy canes, kids and people caroling. In one split second we went from having a healthy child to a freshly brain injured, shaved head, overweight, constantly throwing up, couldn't move, loving child.
Our first holiday season found us cross country at an institute trying to learn how to rehabilitate her. I remember trying desperately to make the best! Make the best! But sometimes, as we were on break down in the cutest little town of Chestnut Hill - I would watch all of the people in their holiday excitement and want to gag. I felt sick by my thoughts, but honestly, their smiles and laughter would grate and radiate on every exposed nerve. After my brief pity party of, "Well, Merry Christmas to us!" I had to divert my attention to something more uplifting...like a piece of cake! It seemed overnight, I had become the lonely hearted during the holiday season…the season I so loved. The broken down, trying to be as positive as possible under grave circumstances.
Each year has been its own unique and individual challenge in the lonely hearts club. But as with everything, you find ways to fill the void. You search, seek and learn what works for you. I remember one moment during one year, I was feeling exceptionally sorry for myself. I can't stand that feeling, so I immediately jumped to what I know works for me, and that's looking outside myself and our situation. Knowing there are others in greater need than us always does the trick. It's like magic. So I looked down at a certain someone, and thought…I'm going to do something I've always wanted to.
Aviana saved me. She continues to save me, year after year. Aviana's Elves is the best and greatest thing for me. It provides a feeling which fills me like nothing else ever could, especially during the holidays. The things we did, coupled with all you sent me…I can't even begin to tell you. My heart is full. My holiday season was as full as could be this year. Thank you so very much for your help. Year after year, you have saved me. I sit in amazement, because each year you join together and pull my heart through when I need it most, and all in the name of helping others in need. It's the most beautiful thing to me. I thank you, I love you, and I wish you the happiest of holiday…truly ❤️
I think back before Aviana and I was lost. Straight up lost. She was and will always be my compass to what is true and important in this life. She points me in the direction to what the holiday season is all about. The thing I used to spend the least of my time and energy on is now what I choose to spend the most on…and it's all because of her. I sit here crying because in her time, without a word, she said all she needed to me. Not that I wasn't a good person before, but I would never want to be the person I was the day of her accident. She transformed my life. She has shown me a whole new world. I suppose that's what her purpose was - to change the people who were lucky enough to know her.
Grieving during the holidays can be hard core, but it's not all bad. It's a gift if you look at it in a different way. Sure it doesn't feel good, no way...not by a long shot. Between Aviana and Kama, I have been through some of the worst moments in previous years. I wouldn't want those moments back, but I wouldn't trade them either. They definitely serve a purpose. These moments have given me time to dig deep and find what and who are most meaningful and important to me. Once I figured out what and who...the best part - forcefully grabbing on and never letting go! To my very best friends, the family members who are there for us…and I mean, really there. It makes me grasp on to the things I love most in life - hugging the hell out of our Rainey Girl because I know nothing is promised and she might not be here tomorrow, laughing as I always do with Dave - the very best I will ever have, singing horribly to my very favorite songs, rolling the windows down and feeling the wind on my face. Just plain being mindful of every little thing. When the earth has been ripped out from under, you know to enjoy every moment you have as the next may not come. Love the ones you're with, always. Love the life you have, always.
But please, don't get me wrong, there have been many moments and times in these past years when I've been stripped to the bone….to the point of having to truly dig and I mean deep because the pain of what was in front of me was far too much. I had to talk myself down and always in the same few ways. One such as this. My heart would go to places of recent devastation, like tsunamis or hurricanes, often third world. I've done this too many times to count. My mind has gone to no food, no clothes, no shelter, no running water, no medication. I picture I'm sick as a dog, having to walk miles upon miles in the rain to get medication for an ailing family member. When I'm cold in my house and I go get a blanket, I think of the homeless people on the street, the ones I've met at Loaves & Fishes, who don't have that luxury and I'm good to go. Snapped back to reality…it could be worse.
Yes...I bake, wrap presents, shop, visit, and I enjoy doing so, but every year and because of Aviana my heart is truly with the grieving, lonely, hungry and cold. Once your own heart has been broken wide open, it never fully mends. It comes back together in many ways, but remains cracked for life.
I don't look at it as a bad thing though...
This season has been different from all those in the past. Yes there has been a little sad, but nothing like past years. Today has been a good day. I think of Aviana and hold her in the light.