It was the last Christmas my mom would spend with us.
No pictures in this post. Most of the pictures from that Christmas are of her kids- moms are always the ones behind the camera. No? Anyway. the pictures of my mom I have from that last Christmas are not the way I like to remember her.
The cancer had ravaged her body.
She ordered the doctors, “Just do what you need to. Just get this done.”
She knew what was coming.
She didn’t want it to arrive at Christmas.
She knew that some memories never fade.
She knew she was leaving.
She wasn’t sure yet where she was going.
But she was sure of this.
She would not leave a black cloud hanging over the future Christmasses of her family. Getting through one more Christmas wasn’t for her, it was never about her. Her everything was her kids. She needed to see us, together, smiling, hugging, laughing.
I know how hard it must have been to crease the lips into a smile, to even walk.
She would laugh as hard as she was able.
She would make us pancakes.
She would scold us.
She would make sure the gifts were separated first into everyone’s piles – and only then allow us to dig in.
She saw to it that the Christmas stockings were as full as ever, with all the things we’d had in them for years. We knew what would be there every Christmas: that box of thin mints, shampoo, a trinket or two, a gigantic apple.
The apple would always survive much longer than the thin mints.
Every Christmas, and this one too, she lit up when we lit up, she surveyed the scene and took in the moments. She organized and refereed, and was stage manager to the chaos – and she protected us from as much harm as she could.
I still have the bunny slippers she got me – almost 20 years old now, reinforced with duct tape on the bottom and extra cushion inside. It was the last present she would ever buy for me. She had help with shopping that year. Her teen-aged daughter would take care of most of it. But these slippers. These she bought on her own. Her second to last gift.
Her last one would be …
who would now become mine to watch over
until I gave her away when I walked her down the aisle.
That was the greatest gift my mother ever gave me.
On that last Christmas day we focused on holiday – and not on her – that’s what she wanted. We knew she was ill, but not that she was dying. I look back at pictures now and can see the glimmer in her tired eyes, the glimmer of success.
The end would come like lighting. Mom was gone two weeks after that Christmas.
…well, many of you know what it does.
But she was determined to give this last gift,
a Christmas with memories and not shadows.
And now she’s not here.
But I’ll see you again mom.
That’s the greatest gift that God gave me,
He gave it to me, to present to you
The greatest comfort I have about you,
is that you accepted that gift before the end of this life
So I can say
not in the automatic way it sometimes gets said
about those no longer with us
but with certainty, and faith, and reality.
I can say,
because I know you still live,
I’ll see you again.
In God’s love.