Five years ago at the end of January, I was pushing my mother in her wheelchair toward the elevator of her residence.
"The Christmas decorations are gone!" she cried with alarm.
"Oh yes," I said, noticing that indeed the small tree and other cheer had been removed from the lobby. "They just put them in boxes to save for next year."
"I wish they hadn't put them away," she continued.
She was genuinely sad, though it didn't seem like such a big deal to me.
In retrospect, it was her last Christmas. She knew it.
For her, the Christmas decorations would not emerge again next year. There would be no next year.
The vanishing of Christmas was yet another step toward total loss: home, health, shopping, walking, eating, life.
Now it is the end of January five years later, 2013. I've packed and stored the Christmas decorations once again, but I always think of her and how sad she was to part with the bright joy of Christmas.
Earlier this month I visited the place where her ashes are scattered. It lies under two feet of snow.
Rest in peace, they say.
Certainly she rests--perhaps she feels the joy of Christmas. I do not know.
Anyway, Mother, know that I am thinking of you.