After a 2021 filled with many pivots caused by COVID I was so looking forward to 2022… until it actually came!! I know how hard the holidays can be for some people so thanks to my awesome friend Gayle Fisher Stewart I facilitated a Blue Christmas event using LEGO Serious Play at an Episcopal Church in D.C. We built hopeful strategies to help with grief with sadness during the holidays. With Omicron just starting to spread rapidly we had a small but very committed and interactive group and had an incredible time of learning and sharing. It’s an event I’d love to do each year!
Spending Christmas morning with the kids and the afternoon with Mom was great!! I am so amazed that Mom is still here, so I gave her more Wonder Woman gifts in celebration, a stocking, coffee mug and socks! She was really alert on Christmas day and I made the most of every moment we were together!
Then I headed out to see several Holiday light shows in DC, MD and VA and all of them were simply spectacular!! All of that was a fabulous way to wind down a really crazy year! I was also dreading December 29th which was the last day I was going to be able to see Mom due to another lockdown of her facility due to Omicron.
It was right before Christmas that the deaths started, with four current and former pillars from my church leaving us between Dec 20 and New Years Eve. Each one of them hit me hard, especially the one on New Years Eve which was just shocking. Then on Jan 2nd a very sweet friend I met through RVing Women died and because I had thought she was recovering from her illness I was so distraught reading of her death that I fell off my treadmill. Thankfully I wasn’t hurt but learned the valuable lesson of not reading Facebook while on the treadmill. Mix into all that the deaths of Desmond Tutu, Betty White and most recently Sidney Poitier and it had just become too much!
January 3rd was my birthday but I knew my planned birthday dinner wasn’t going to occur due to the snow forecast for that day and we ended up getting 11 inches where I live. The entire day was a blur though as the most devastating death of one of my extended family members occurred on that day, though we learned the death was imminent the day before. I spent most of that day in tears and wasn’t really sure how to move forward. Using my snow blower for the first time ever to rid my walkway, sidewalk and driveway of the heavy and icy snow was restorative for me and showed me how to blaze a new path through a heavy obstacle.
It took a couple of hours to get all the snow removed and my tenant even pitched in quite a bit. I felt very accomplished after it was all done and cried about that too! I ended up having peanut butter and jelly for dinner as I couldn’t muster the energy to fix anything else.
All of the birthday dinners and lunches I had scheduled for the week were postponed or held on Zoom due to the original snowstorm and another on Friday. It was just as well and I wasn’t really up to celebrating… BUT as I was finishing up some new additions to my Refreshment for the Caregiver’s Spirit presentation I’m giving this week for Insight Memory Care Center’s Monthly Care Partner Training I looked inside my JOY box, a place I put cards and other memorabilia to lift me up on tough days! After reading or holding a few of the items in the box, right away I began to feel lighter, and I smiled that authentic Loretta smile for the first time in days. I even added a photo of the virtual visit I had with Mom yesterday to the JOY box to look at on the days I am sad because I can’t be with her in person! I’m thankful I opened my JOY Box – it’s such a beautiful and restorative place to go when the JOY is hard to find! I’m grateful for all of my friends and family wish us all many JOYFUL days in 2022!
My dearest Loretta, what beams brightly through your recount of your difficult entry into the new year is gratitude. Your gratitude for your manifold blessings. Your gratitude that doesn’t lessen the pains of absence from your beloved mother Doris and grief in response to the deaths of dear friends and extended family folk, yet emboldens you to engage in the life before you (whether manifested in snow removal or designed LEGO activities and everything else — the life that remains yours — with vigor.
Bless you. Love you. Carry on.
I love you back and am grateful for you!!! It was a little difficult to find the vigor this week!! But when I went to the JOY box, I found something I hadn’t looked at in a long time… It’s an orange card that said “I made this card for you because you deserve it!” It was from the organizer at one of the conferences I spoke at virtually last year. Her not inside was even better than the front of the card…. and I can’t even explain how cool it was operating the snow blower and watching the mounds of snow shoot out of the machine like fireworks!! I’m so glad all that came through in the blog!!
I appreciate your support and your and Pontheolla’s phone call on my birthday more than I can say!!
Oh, Loretta. It does seem like this is a time when loss is writ large across our lives, our relationships, and our country, doesn’t it? I can only imagine how heavy the losses of so many people dear to you during this Christmas season must have felt. And I know being separated from your mom is always excruciating for you. And yet, as Paul says above, your gratitude and your penchant to find the joy in every eventuality shines through.
A Joy box! How like you, Loretta. To hang onto those things that fill your heart and reassure that those you love are loving you and holding you in their arms and hearts, even at a distance. And finding new ways for your Lego work to support and cheer those who need it during the Christmas season is exactly what I would have expected.
Your snow clearing skills are prodigious! I probably shouldn’t show that picture to Ted, in case we get a March snowstorm when you are here!!! He’ll have you out helping him clear our driveway! (I am sure hoping that Omicron is a fading worry by that time!!!!)
My heart is with you and your mom as you deal with another time of separation, Loretta. The picture of her is wonderful – Wonder Woman, indeed!
Take care, my friend. Your resourcefulness and optimism are so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your life and your determination!
Thank you my sister!!! And please tell Ted I have ordered the snow to stay away when I visit in March!! Hoping for warm weather!! LOL…. The Joy Folder and Box has sustained me since Tim’s death. I can’t remember where I originally saw the suggestion but I jumped on it immediately. The JOY folder on my phone has photos of trips Tim and I took and photos of emails caregivers have sent me. My Joy Box I made out of LEGO bricks and has stuff like thank you cards, thinking of you cards AND gifts like a set of rocks that say gratitude, love, and strength that a caregiver sent me along with a copy of the evaluation she submitted to the conference after hearing me speak … she wrote “Loretta could motivate a ROCK!” Now if THAT doesn’t bring you JOY I don’t know what will. I wish I had looked at the box earlier this week, but I wanted to added a card I received this week and to take a photo of the contents of the box for my presentation on Wed!
I’m sooooo looking forward to our visit!! Can you send me some dates that work best for you and I’ll book the flight ….
Much love back to you my sister!
Your mom looks great in the photo and I love the socks!
Thank you!! I love the socks too!!!! They really are EVERYTHING and she loved them!!!
Sending love and admiration your way, dear friend!
Thanks Julie!! I appreciate you!!! Whew what a week!!!
Dear Loretta- I’m so sorry for all the sadness in your blog post. Doesn’t it sometimes seem like when it rains it truly does pour? It is interesting to note that this saying connects experiences to nature, and I often find that connecting to nature in one way or another can help deal with grief. In your case you plowed away the snow and kept in mind that even on a snowy day you can find beautiful crystals and magical icicles. Sending hugs and belated birthday wishes. Rebecca
You’re so awesome Rebecca!!!! Thank you sooooo much for your post!! That snow plowing really saved me!!! It was soooo healing and the snow truly was beautiful!!
Stay well my friend!!