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In the Darkness, Bringing Light. | Bethany Suckrow

In the Darkness, Bringing Light.

The thing is, she would tell us to put the Christmas tree up, even now. I know this because the day after Thanksgiving last year, the day after we brought her home from a two week stay at the hospital to in-home hospice care where a nurse named Faye marched in and informed us she’s dying, duh. Get with the program, and we didn’t eat turkey or have much to be thankful for, we still managed to put up the Christmas tree and she watched with a smile on her face.

If she could have gotten off the couch, she would have, to straighten the ornaments and rearrange the matryoshka Santa and red star candle on the fireplace mantle so that everything was evenly spaced.

She would have made the cookies, too, and I know this because she made my grandma drive her to the grocery store right before Christmas to buy the ingredients. I found them stashed in the cupboard a few days after the funeral.

This is the thing about traditions that I both love and hate right now : if we do them long enough, they are so deeply woven into who we are that even as a part of us mourns them, yet we still feel utterly compelled to do them. To not do them would sharpen the pain and absence and longing further, pull us deeper into the darkness. And she would hate that. There are times when going through the motions of tradition helps a family survive, and maybe even discover the good tidings and great joy for which this season exists :

Emmanuel, God with us.

God with us in the darkness, bringing light, bringing hope.

So the tree will go up. The mantle will be adorned with the matryoshka Santa and the bright red star candle and the lace nativity. The cookies will be made, if I can find the recipe. Mannheim Steamroller will play in the background. And when we turn round the living room to survey the splendor of our own nostalgia and tradition, we will see her. Her straightening the star on the tree. Her rolling cookie dough, covered in flour. Her practicing Christmas carols at the piano. Her on the couch, trying to enjoy these last twinkle-lit moments with us.

  • http://www.carisadel.com/ Caris Adel

    Oh, Bethany. I’m so sorry, friend.

  • Debbie Hart

    I can envision your mom doing this, as well! She was the queen of decorating and perfection! We will always miss her and eternally love her! <3

  • Margaret F

    Oh, I can so relate. My dad was diagnosed with cancer last year about a week after thanksgiving. I brought him home on hospice about a week before Christmas and he was gone the day after Christmas. You are being so strong. I’m here if you ever need an ear :) xo, your newest follower.

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      Margaret, I am so sorry about your dad. A lot of times I lament losing my mom in such a long and drawn out way, but then I’m reminded about how fortunate I was to have so much time to prepare myself for losing her, and that not everyone has that “luxury.” My thoughts and prayers are with you this season as you relive all those bittersweet moments with him. Same to you friend – write if you ever need to lean on someone who gets it. <3

  • http://www.tammygrrrl.com/ Tammy Perlmutter

    Beautiful, Bethany. I’m feeling that need to continue or create traditions too. I know the mere act of it will bring some light.

  • ann

    OH how I miss her so. I often catch a glimpse of her in the mall or store. Someone who looks like her, that is. She is watching and rejoicing in heaven.

  • lindsholifield

    Yes, God with us, even now.

  • Sherrie

    My thoughts are with you especially this first Christmas without her. Stay strong. Your writing brought tears to my eyes. You are special and an awesome legacy to your Mom.

  • Victoria

    So beautiful. You continue to put into words, for me, things that I don’t know how to say. I will put up our tree this week and hope that it brings the light that I so badly need. Wishing you peace.

    • http://www.bethanysuckrow.com/ Bethany Suckrow

      Hope you’re finding light and peace, Victoria. Sometimes I am afraid to put words to my grief, but I am so glad that they are helping you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/deborah.lynn.750 Deborah Lynn

    lovely writing.

    thank you for sharing your grief and hope thoughts.