A new year memory to cherish
Published 5:07 pm Wednesday, January 4, 2017
The clock was about to move its hand to the year 2000. The dawn of a new millennium was being celebrated in streets, homes, clubs, and churches throughout the world. It was a great time for celebration as the world moved from the 20th to the 21st century.
The air outside was electric as the fireworks lit the night. I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes as silence enveloped my spirit. It was one of the loneliest nights of my life. One that was spent in tears, in prayer, in fist clenching and finally, thankfully, sleep.
I recall sitting on the living room floor, my elbows resting on the coffee table with hands clasped asking God, “Why?”
A relationship I did not want to end, ended. My children were celebrating in other parts of the country and my friends were with other friends. My brother and father had passed away within the last 18 months.
My mother was still alive and I had visited her earlier in the day. If I had known what my fate would be that December 31, 1999, I would have spent the night with her. I thought my prince might show up, but it was not to be.
Unlike Cinderella, my shoes were not glass but rather old house slippers of wool and rubber. My gown was a big flannel shirt and pajama bottoms. And for sure, there was no knight in shining armor.
As I sat on the floor and pondered the next day, I really thought my grief was going to float me away. I couldn’t see beyond that night and the loss. The 2000’s seemed stark and uncertain and too modern for this old girl. I wanted to go back in time, not forward.
Sure enough, I awoke the next morning to the future with swollen eyes and holding on to an old stuffed bear from my childhood.
There have been many New Year’s celebrations since that sad day and there have been more difficult days as well. The trick to getting to tomorrow is often just moving through the tears, through heartache, through sadness until you see the dawn of a day when you, once again, smile.
It takes courage, conviction, faith, and brute strength to continue life after a loss, or a bout of depression, or a loss of a job, or a myriad of life alterations. If we can just hang on until some healing occurs, then we have learned a lot about our resolve and inner fortitude.
My grandmother, Nannie, lost her husband quite suddenly in 1965. She had been planning a party to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary the following month.
Until that day I never thought of my grandparents being apart. Now, life turned to death in a second and the jolt left my grandmother bedridden.
Family gathered and wondered if she would survive. She was 70 years old at the time. I was mortified when I heard that talk, because she was my angel on earth.
She told me a story several years later and until this day, I would swear to you it is true.
For quite a while after Granddaddy’s death she would walk the mile nearly every day to the cemetery where he was buried under a lone tree on a hill to be with him.
“Lynn, the other day I was walking back home and I was crying my eyes out. I missed him so much. I always hated to leave him on that hill alone.
Suddenly, it was as if he were standing in front of me!”
My eyes widened as she continued, “Yes, he was standing in front of me to block me from walking. His hands were on his hips and he was so mad at me, I was shocked!”
“What did he say?” I questioned.
“He told me that he was very upset with me because he wasn’t on that hill and I should know that! He told me to quit that crying, to live, and that he would see me in a greater place.
“Nannie, you know better!” was the last sentence he spoke before leaving the sidewalk.
From that day forward my grandmother never went back to the hill unless it was to place flowers on a special day. Eventually, she begin to smile and play and cook. She had to live on.
She met my granddaddy in that great place 28 years later. Yes, she was 98 when the gates opened and let that angel in.
We all have faced the difficult task of waking up on some mornings when life has given us darkness. Somehow, someway, most of us pull through.
Have you ever noticed that when we take heartache and use it to help another going through their own pain, our pain subsides? Yet, when we close ourselves off and brood in silence the pain continues.
I think that is the way it is supposed to be.
This past New Year’s Eve, I was sitting on the sofa with my flannel shirt on and my pajama bottoms. My feet were warmed by my wool and rubber slippers. I had just come back from a small party with great friends. My husband was softly snoring in his recliner.
I thought about that lonely night years ago, as I do every year, and am thankful that I made it into the future.
As my head rested against a sofa pillow, I smiled.