Friday, December 20, 2013
This close to Christmas, I ought to be in the Christmas spirit, but I’m not.
I’m too ill, having caught a cold and forced to take drugs that numb my thinking.
I’ve done no shopping, although I somehow managed to get my Christmas cards sent – a feat I did not accomplish over the last two years, partly because each year I was saddled with the aftermath of eye surgery.
Christmas means more this year because I suddenly have family again.
Christmas became more and more diminished as members of my immediately family passed away. Each year saw a new loss and so by the time of my mother’s death just after Christmas in 2001, I seemed alone.
I had my daughter and my ex-wife, of course, but the core family I grew up with was gone.
This was made more painfully evident in 2010 with the death of Uncle Ted, the man closest to me, and then, in early 2012, Alice’s husband, Peter, who had become as close to us as anyone.
The discovery that I had sisters and brothers this year makes Christmas mean something again, although I’m too weary from the last few months of work and this week’s illness to fully appreciate it yet.
I need to take a walk in the woods alone to think – something I have always done in the past when change comes upon me – or even to wander around New York, although with Cooper Union stealing so much of the landscape I remember in the East Village, this is no longer as enjoyable as it once was.
New York is no longer a friendly place for people like me and so I must find that sense of spirit somewhere else.
Ultimately, of course, we are all alone – sometimes finding soul mates that help us travel through this and perhaps other lives.
We struggle to work out the difficult passages as best we can, forced to depend on our own resources.
Our soul mates, our friends, and those who know us best can at best provide some comfort, but rarely more. If we are very lucky, some few who know the deeper truths, can promise to keep faith with us – if not providing solutions, then at least, not blaming us for the solutions we find for ourselves.
People tell us that life is a gift; it maybe; but it is also a burden.
If we are lucky, we learn in this life that we live other lives beyond the boundaries of the one we wake up to each morning, and sometimes, we have others who keep us company there, and guard over us in this world and that.
These souls are always there for us, always holding our hands even when we seem most alone.
The great gift is finding that they exist in this world as well as that, and an even greater gift to have met them here, even if ever so briefly.