Saturday, December 24, 2011

it was a silent night...

i've been thinking a lot about what i wanted to write in this blog post, all of which was to be quite profound, but it's just time to put pen to paper (so to speak) and break my blog hiatus. this has been a beautiful and magical and tender and tragic and heartbreaking year. i cannot begin to express my gratitude for the many blessings bestowed on me and my family, the most precious of which is our beautiful baby, david. but i also cannot consider the joys of this year without remembering the loss.

although "the little drummer boy," is my favorite holiday song, "silent night" has been speaking to me this season. i've always heard the line "round yon virgin, mother and child" and assumed it referred to both mary (mother) and jesus (child), but this year it struck me that both mother and child are in reference to mary; jesus gets the next line to himself. why is it that seemingly opposite things so often go together inseparably? parenthood and love and joy and loss have a way of reminding me that while i am powerful and fierce and brave (i gave birth), i am also quite fragile, as are we all. i am both mother and child; both nurturer and one who requires nurturing. these qualities are not separate or independent from one another - they are ever present in all that i do and am. and i have to wonder, in what ways, if any, should this knowledge change the way i understand myself? and because i'm asking the question of me, i'll take a stab at an answer - it should make me more confident and more willing to be interdependent. or maybe some other things. i guess i'm not sure yet.

a couple of weeks ago was the annual christmas hoot (which is my favorite holiday event due to the cathartic nature of joyful group singing). the hoot closes each year with "silent night" and this year a sweet little girl took to the stage for "rudolf the red nosed reindeer" and stayed for the duration. and as she was singing "silent night" and got to the "sleep in heavenly peace" line, my eyes watered up rather unexpectedly. all i could think of was sweet baby martin jones and my dear aunt judy, both of whom passed this year. and my heart is just so heavy. i'm not very religious, but i am somewhat faithful and i do believe that the dead are in heavenly peace. i believe that they are in the arms of a higher power and that they are surrounded by the love and light of their ancestors and my own. and i'm grateful for that faith, but my god, the sadness takes my breath away. and i have so many questions, like how does life move forward? what does healthy grief look like? when is it time for joy?

i suppose the answer is that life moves forward one moment at a time. healthy grief looks like one foot moving in front of the other with lots of breaks for memories and tears. and joy happens whether i mean for it to or not.

i've always been susceptible to grief in times of great joy and i think it's just because, like mary as the mother and child, great joy reminds me that there is also great sadness. my aunt jackie who lost her love and partner, my aunt judy, posted the following to facebook last night and i just want to say, ditto....

However you celebrate the holidays, I am wishing for each of you one that is filled with joy, laughter, peace, and blessings of every sort imaginable. So...imagine away! May you be with friends and family and may your memories of those no longer with you on this Earth be filled with love and gentleness.

and with that i send my love to you and yours, and offer you a lovely rendition of "silent night."


  1. Hear, hear Helen. Just got back to my mom's house from a Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's house where good times were had. Phillip was brought up on several occasions mostly in laughter and joy. He is still a part of our lives, and I believe he always will be.

    I'm glad to hear that you have had so much joy added to your life with the addition of David despite the occasional "Un-silent Night". I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.


  2. Thanks, Wes! It's great to hear from you! We had a really great and low-key day. Just the kind we like. :-)