I sat with Greta this morning like I do most days and we talked about her best friend that moved away 12 days and 7 hours ago. She covered her face. I covered her body with mine, arms reaching wide to close her in tight. Only a few tears today. We looked at photos of their smiling faces together. Tomorrow we will do it again. Maybe not in the morning, but we will talk about her friend, her pain and I will wrap her.
I tell her no lies. It is painful. It hurts. It is so very sad to have a friend move away. It is heartbreaking. I tell her about my friend, Rachel, who moved across the country when we were little girls. I tell her I understand and I wrap her again in my arms. I kiss her blonde head, hair straying from a long braid because of her play. It feels like I am holding a small, delicate bird. It feels like I am holding myself. And I do not move a muscle. I don’t want her to think that I have anything else on my mind or on a list to get done. I am here for a minute or I am here for the day, on this couch wrapping her until she can feel safe enough in the world to move from her seat.
I recognize that I am holding myself. My small person, like her. My blonde hair messed and my blue eyes watered from real pain. I remember how cold I was alone in my room, curled in a ball on my bed, lights off and my cheeks soaking the pillow case. My mom, my family, somewhere in the belly of the house far, far away. Maybe they didn’t know I was upset this time? Maybe they didn’t know the next time and the time after that. Oh, but surely, one of the times when they tried to open my door they must have known.
The holidays can be tricky for many of us, can’t they? We see hope and happiness and sharing with family. But, for many, if you lifted up the fluffy red and green topcoat of Christmas, I think you would find some worms. Dirt. Ugly. Raw. Cold.
I don’t pretend to not be sad anymore. I don’t pretend to make cheer at the expense of my heart and my children’s soft hearts. I cry instead. I ache and I make myself tea and I wrap myself in a furry blanket by the fire. I don’t pretend it’s not there and I don’t run away. I don’t don’t even harden myself, but I will sit down and give myself a minute. I see the buzz around me in these moments. My children playing, my husband puttering and the touch of my hand on my heart reassuring me that I am safe and I am okay; that I am the Mom. And I am the care-taker to myself too. Tomorrow I may sit and cry again. Tomorrow I may need to wrap myself. I’ll do it after holding Greta.