This week, at the neighborhood tres chic coffeehouse I picked up some disturbing news. A dear friend's husband has opted for his third overseas tour. This group event doesn't involve walks along the Seine or gondola rides on the Great Canal. It's of the military type. The other shattering news was in a nearby town a small boy died of cancer. Both events hit me hard. Still both events weren't unexpected. The decision to go or not go has been waffled on for months and that poor child had been sick for years. But still, as I said to a writing friend, the wind has left my holiday sails.
Since hearing this news, I've been plodding through life. Sure the girls got to school, parties, and playdates, and dinner was on the table, but life had lost its luster. Both events are centered on the lose of a loved one; either by choice or disease. How could I go through this season continuing to worry about whether the girls would LOVE every one of the 4 billion presents Santa was bringing, whether the Christmas Day dinner would be just so, or whether I would be able to stick to my diet? What's Important?
Yesterday I got my answer. The schedule was full as usual: volunteering at the school, setting up for the community craft fair, finishing a scouting project and babysitting. The girls up, and fed we headed out the door and the process of finishing the list commenced.
Volunterring Done (check)
Helped With Set Up (check)
Then the strangest thing happened. As I was heading home to babysit and collaborate on the project I got a migraine. Thankfully they are not painful, but I get that aura where I can't see clearly and I'm exhausted afterwards. And thankfully again it wasn't full blown until I was safely parked in the driveway.
As we walk into the kitchen we were greeted by the holiday red light of the answering machine. We didn't need to babysit, which was fine. Then the phone rings and there is a change of plan. We won't be finishing the scouting project; fine too. Our afternoon had melted away; my little one and I ate lunch.
The best thing for this type of headache is to relax. So I suggest to my little one that we have a snuggle on the couch. She gathers her favorite blankies and we get cozy. First she is sitting on my lap, all tucked in and safe. Then we are laying side-by-side. She is wrapped up tightly in my arms. We're blanketed in our shared warmth when I remember the little boy and the children my friend's husband is leaving behind and I start to cry.
What's Important? Warm cozy afternoons on the couch, preschoolers washing dishes, school-age children telling you about their day and listening to them, walking with a child's hand in yours, hugging, doing puzzles, reading together, snuggling in bed an extra ten minutes, hearing your child say, "I love you," and knowing it's true, and loving them back.
So, with a renewed effort I will unfurl the holiday sails. And I will remember to love my children and even those that aren't mine, for all those people that can't.