That’s my precious daddy up there in that photo, tending to his tomatoes a couple of summers ago.
I love that picture.
For those of you who follow my blog, Facebook, etc., you’re probably already aware that my dad passed after a brief but mighty battle after having received two medications that are not supposed to be co-prescribed.
And yet were.
I’m sure my writer’s heart will process many of those final days’ events through written language, but I don’t know if those writings will find their way to my blog. I just don’t know yet. It’s all too recent and intimate and surreal.
It made the Christmas season just….weird. Very weird.
As we moved through the hospital and the ICU and the lobby and then through the stores and businesses as we made plans for my dad’s memorial, it seemed so odd that Christmas decor was garishly everywhere. I actually found myself, five days before Christmas and one day before my dad’s memorial, in a store thinking, “Why on earth are they playing ‘White Christmas’ in here?”
And then had to darkly laugh at myself.
A store playing Christmas music at the holidays. Of all the nerve.
It just didn’t seem like Christmas.
And yet it was.
Watching my brothers and my mom as we navigated those last horrible, beautiful, wrenching, inspiring days at my dad’s bedside, I could not have felt more pride and awe and gratitude for my family of origin. My dad was achingly courageous, my mom was gorgeously strong, my brothers tender and tough. My tribe. My people. My blood. Shattered. Scared.
Four days before Christmas, we held my dad’s memorial.
In the middle of an ice storm.
And the next night, we had our Lyles Christmas.
And the next night, we had a fly-by Carr Christmas.
And the next day, Christmas Eve, we said goodbye to all the extended family and drove back to ATX.
And the next day was Christmas.
It was Christmas. But it wasn’t Christmas. But it was.
In all the best sense of the season, it was very much a holiday filled with tremendous memory, love from friends and family, care, heart and kindness. And we experienced with fresh, tear-filled eyes the hope that our faith brings, the belief that an obscure baby born to an obscure girl in an obscure town in a dusty Roman outpost gives us purpose and the promise that this life matters and leads to eternity.
In that way, this was a most specific and pure of Christmases for us.
It was a Christmas with a lot of tears.
And a lot of joy.
And somehow, miraculously, a lot of laughter.
We didn’t get the Christmas miracle we wanted.
But we did get a Christmas miracle.
Joy can still flower, even when it seems dark.