The apartment is clean. (The dishes still need to be done, but I’m a grown woman! Don’t tell me what to do!) The kiddos are here, watching “Nickey Mouse,” gleefully eyeballing the Christmas tree in the corner. I told the 5 year old that she could open presents tomorrow morning. “You mean after I go to bed tonight? And not any other night? Just one night?”
This Christmas season has felt strange. I found out two days ago that one of my former students died in a car accident. I’ve been really wrestling with this lately–and I wish that this was a situation that made sense to my brain so that I could rest and grieve and move on. But the poor girl thought she saw a spider in the cab of the car, panicked–then she crossed the centerline, hit an oncoming tow truck, and she died. She just flat out died. No reason for it. No negligence. No cautionary tale. No reason. Just a family without their daughter this Christmas.
So what does it all mean? I don’t want a religious answer. I don’t want some trite, even if it is well-meant, condolence or kind words that we pass along without truly thinking about what they mean. Some people die. And none of my own problems and stresses–and oh, how I have been stressing about Christmas–none of those things matter. A young girl died and I’m cranky about Christmas? I am pretty disgusted with myself. As I sit here, typing this, the computer animated “Nickey Mouse” a little too loud on the television, I take a deep breath and feel ashamed.
The beauty I have in my life is undeniable. I have a two year old sitting on my feet right now. He needs a haircut something fierce. He’s sticky from eating an enormous candy cane. His sticky fingerprints are all over the couch and he is transfixed by this “Nickey Mouse” show. The five year old is playing with her Monster High doll, and she was just sitting on my lap, snuggled with her face in the crook of my neck. She says: “I am just freaking out! I want to open my presents tonight!” I have a partner who loves me unconditionally and loves our family so much. Henry finds more joy in his children than I have ever seen anyone display. We have a warm apartment, more presents than we know what to do with, food, our health, and each other. I have a terrible tendency to magnify the bad things when the best parts of my life are truly the best parts of my entire life so far.