Sunday, 24 December 2006

fullness in the emptiness

The last Christmas I spent in Australia was a sad one.

My Grandpa died on the evening of December 20th 2004, and was not laid to rest until after the holidays, almost a week later.

At that point, we weren't to know that it would be our last Christmas in our former home, but there it is...that was the last Australian Christmas we had.

Everyone who attended was understandably, a little shell shocked.

My Grandpa suffered a brief unprecedented bout with cancer....and was suddenly gone.

My Mum had planned a great big family Christmas at her house, that year. "It would be the first year that everyone, on both sides of the family, would be there" - she had enthused.... but it wasn't to be.

In the end, given the circumstances, the Christmas she had planned, was cancelled. The family she longed to unite and see celebrating, never arrived. Instead, we all broke off into out immediate family groups, and had our Christmases separately.

My house became "the venue" for our family. Everyone in attendance that day, had recently lost a pivotal male figure. My Gran - her husband; My Mum - her Father; my Dad - his Father who had also died earlier in that same year; my brother and myself - a wonderful pair of Grandfathers; my children - Great Grandfathers.

And so, on that day, a day for familyand celebrating; for fullness and love; a day of plenty and of joy; we also felt the very contradictory, yet overwhelming, feelings of emptiness, strangeness, sadness and in a way, paralysis.

The pendulum of life swings back and forth with even consistency. And with every journey that pendulum takes, at one point, it always must return to centre; neither back... neither forth, but momentarily is relieved of all momentum, and is balanced.

Sometimes the heavy aspects of life seem to dominate. Sometimes the lighter moments of joy appear so unreachable and distant, that we can draw no strength; no hope and no inspiration from its memory or influence. But the lighter moments do still remain, just wait until the pendulum swings forth once again, as it inevitably will.

There will be many an empty chair at family dinner tables these holidays, but where there is emptiness there is also a potential to see fullness - look a little harder, a little deeper...perhaps try widening the perspective.

2004 was also the year my daughter was born.

As long as we remember those who are not physically present, then in some small way, we open our grieving hearts wide enough, to let our lost loved ones share in and enjoy a place at every celebration. For once claimed, no one can truely escape our open heart.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

You truly are The Brave... for sharing something so personal and moving with your faithful readers.

Hugs to you. And happy, happy holidays, Strauss!