December is just two days away, and I'm not prepared. Oh, I have gifts purchased and Christmas cards ready to send. I have the calendar full of parties and events. But, still, I feel a dread that quickens my pulse and tightens my throat.
I have lovely memories of golden roasted turkeys, holiday carols, and frosted cookies. Yet, scattered between these are darker memories that still chill my bones:
1. Nana: She becomes ill and enters the hospital right after Christmas. I wait to hear how she is, but I'm scared.
2. Daddy: He dies, suddenly, one December day as I prepare for college finals. Everything changes.
3. Momma: She gets terribly sick and is admitted to the hospital. I am too far away to get to her. I am helpless.
4. Grandma: She dies, after years of suffering, in a nursing home in St. Louis. I hadn't seen her in over a year.
5. Sister: She is admitted to the hospital in San Francisco after her water breaks six weeks before her due date. She gets an infection and my niece is born pre-mature. She is forced to spend Thanksgiving day in the hospital.
My mother and sister are fine now. They are healthy and well as is my sweet little niece, but every year as the holidays approach I begin to panic. I find myself grinding my teeth and my neck tightens with anxiety. I have trouble sleeping, and I become nervous and twitchy. I jump when the phone rings, and I find myself thinking, "What will happen this year? Who will it be? What will we have to deal with now?"
I dream of my father and grandmothers and wake with tears in my eyes and my head aching.
I know this type of thinking is irrational especially considering that the majority of the holiday seasons I have lived through have been pleasant and uneventful. But I cannot help it. My heart has scars that itch when the weather turns and the days get darker. There is no salve that will calm the irritation or soothe the pricking of fear I live with this time of year.
All I can do is watch the snow fall and hope, hope, hope, that this year will be a good one.