Grief is powerful.
Ten years ago in early December, my Dad went Home. I remember that first Christmas, how I was ambushed by waves of grief when I least expected it. Like one day in Dillards, when O HOLY NIGHT, Dad’s favorite Christmas song, came over the loudspeaker, and I had no where to turn from the raw and painful emotions. I hid in the clothes rack for a while, then just finally handed the sales clerk my purchase with tears streaming down my face, and no explanation on my lips.
Or like when we went to see Mom, and I would go in Dad’s closet when no one was looking, so I could hold his clothes up to my face and breathe in that wonderful, sweet, rugged Dad aroma. Dad smelled so good. So familiar. I could just stand there and breathe deeply and actually still smell him. Something so tangible I could hold on to...so I could remember him.
You never knew when it would just come over you from nowhere. A song, a smell, a child’s laugh, anything precious could trigger it without warning. Yet as time began to heal the painfulness of absence, it happened less. Mom eventually cleaned out Dad’s closet. Time passed. Things changed.
But back to the gift.
Duane brought it home from work this week. A navy blue Mr. Rogers sweater of Dad’s. Mom gave it to Duane during the closet cleaning era, and Duane kept it at his office in case he ever needed to warm up at work. He said he didn’t’ know what to do with it so he brought it home -- had rarely worn it and needed the closet space now. I held the folded sweater up to my face. Inhaled. Remembered . After ten years, surprisingly, unmistakably...it still smelled like Dad.
You never realize the things you will miss the most -- their smell, their voice, their handwriting…. The things that you can no longer have once they cross over.
But this Christmas, I received a gift.