December 21, the longest night in the northern hemisphere this year. Darkness surrounds us, and the memories of all those we have lost this year sear our souls.
Sure, most people get well from breast cancer. Depending on how you count, more than 80 per cent will live out their expected life times. But we lost friends who were too young with children still depending on them. Others had just begun to spend some of that money they had scrimped to save for retirement. Some slipped away too quickly with scarcely a chance to say good bye. Others lingered so long we couldn't bear to watch their suffering.
Icons we had watched defeat cancer succumbed to a recurrence. Our mothers left us last January or last summer. and yet we still find ourselves reaching for the phone to share some good news or to cry about a set back.
December 21 we remember not only our breast cancer sisters who have left us. We grieve the deaths of elderly fathers, school mates, babies never born. So much death.
December 21 is the shortest day of this year. No wonder we light the candles of Christmas and Chanukah. We need some glimmer of hope.
And we find it. The sense of humor a friend kept to the very end casts a golden glow. The courage of the young mother who tried every new trial and treatment to live long enough to see her baby off to kindergarten shines in the night. The grace our neighbor showed through painful treatments glistens.
Memories of funny moments make us laugh unexpectedly in our grief. An old photo makes us smile. A letter from last year that we find in the pocket of our Christmas sweater makes us cry bittersweet tears. Yes, we are sad, but our memories make us rich.
December 21, the darkest day. December 22 will be brighter.
Lighten your grief by sharing a story with us this holiday. And dear friends in the southern hemisphere, we know that grief can darken even sunny, summer beaches. We invite you to share too.
Published On: December 21, 2009