Tag Archives: holiday message

Living through the holidays with death and social media

I lost my grandmother over the holidays. She passed away Christmas Eve.

My grandmother lived in Manhattan in a small apartment in the Lower East Side. This past summer, she came to Canada as she often did, a long drive across the border for a 94-year-old woman. My uncle and aunts drove with her to visit my mom in Montreal first, then they came to Toronto to see me and the rest of the family. That was July. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I saw Grandma alive.

I agonized over writing this post. The holidays are supposed to be a good time—a union of family and friends. Fun and happy moments, with nothing worse than a bit of melancholy for another year passed, but what do you do when someone dies at this time? Holidays are not supposed to include death … but death is never convenient. You have to deal with it when it happens.

My grandmother’s death came suddenly. Even at 94, it was unexpected. I thought she could live forever. She had that aura of invincibility. Here she was at her 89th birthday party laughing with my mom.

grandma and mom

As an author who creates fictional stories, I debated whether I should write a post about my grandmother’s passing.

And how could I do it without sounding maudlin? Especially at this time of year.

You see, each December since starting this blog, I’ve written a holiday message to end the year. The messages have been about reflection, happiness, and looking ahead. I’ve often included humor as part of the festive season. I wanted this post to be something along the same lines, but I couldn’t drum up the enthusiasm to write it that way.

I just couldn’t.

I had to reflect on the life of a woman who meant a great deal to me, and it would be dishonest to write a holiday message without acknowledging the loss. Another year is coming to an end, but an important life has already ended. My grandmother deserved her time with me here.

grandma and me

With Grandma in Toronto 2013

Those who know me well understand I’m a private person. I rarely make announcements about my personal life. I share private matters one-on-one using more traditional means—telephone and email. My declarations via public forums such as Twitter and Facebook are mainly for my writing news. As much as I like social media, I consider it somewhat of a mirage.

Are people always as happy as they appear in their pictures?

The answer is obviously “no.”

With this post, my main purpose is to honor my grandmother, to let people know how lovely she was. What she lacked in physical stature, she made up for in toughness of mind and spirit. She was fiercely independent and got her way without ever raising her voice. Her quiet strength spoke to the many qualities I admired about her, particularly her thoughtfulness and grace. She made the world a better place, and she was a cool woman in every sense of the word.

I also want to thank everyone for their outpouring of support and comforting words of condolences. I’m extremely grateful for the kindness of friends, both virtual and in real life. Though I feel a sad void right now, I know how fortunate I am to have had my grandmother in my life for so long. Many of my friends no longer have parents, let alone grandparents. The reality is Grandma influenced me well into adulthood, and I will forever cherish the precious years I had with her. Her legacy lives on in the small things, which added up to her huge appetite for life.

As she was my last surviving grandparent, her passing brings me closer to my own mortality, but I am not afraid.

I never saw Grandma afraid of anything.

* * *

Some final words for the readers of this blog …

I so appreciate the personal notes, comments, follows, shares, likes, emails, and messages you’ve sent over the years. With your kindness, you’ve given me the best gift for the holidays during a difficult time.

Thank you.

As I close my blog for another year, I am grateful that social media has connected us. We are here together, and that is something worth celebrating.

Wishing love, health, and happiness for you and your families. May 2016 be unforgettable in the best of ways,

~ eden ♥

 

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Gratitude – My Message for the Holidays

This past year has been a strange one, a tumultuous year for many friends and loved ones, myself included. I had not intended to write this post at the beginning of the month, but then something strange happened.

I took a shower.

No, that’s not the strange part.

The strange part happened during it. My muse opened the door and stepped in. He’s done this before, but not in a while. I should have known. He tends to show up when I least expect him. On this particular visit, we had a long conversation. It started off as more of a monologue on my part. I rhymed off all the things I had to do, my gift list, my dinner list, this list and that list. The lists went on and on, and somewhere between the shampoo and body scrub, he reminded me to clean out my ears because I wasn’t listening to him.

He’s kind of pushy that way, but I complied, and that’s when he said I needed to blog about gratitude.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes in the frenzy of “doing,” I tend to forget just “being.” When I cannot take the time to reflect, then it’s difficult to be grateful.

Another year was coming to an end. It deserved its own time apart from all the things that still had to be done.

A time-out was important.

He was right.

* * *

2013 went by in a flash, and the years have gone by quicker as I’ve gotten older. When the end of the year approaches, it speeds up, almost as if we want this one to be over with, so we can start anew. In an effort to let a difficult year slip into oblivion, I thought the best thing was to not even write about it, but of course, I could not. Life, like my muse, always shows up on its own schedule—at an inconvenient time. I didn’t feel like writing this. I had a million other things to do. Yet here I am.

So … gratitude.

Around this time of year, the question does not tend to be: “What are you grateful for?”

For Canadians, that was back in October. Americans had their Thanksgiving less than a month ago.

No, this holiday demands to know: “What do you want?”

Everywhere I turn, I see the lure of things that people want.

For me, there’s little I want that is material in nature.

Stay with me … this is going off on a tangent but I’ll circle back. I promise.

* * *

I visited the John Lennon exhibit in New York City several years ago at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Annex, which no longer exists. The exhibit consisted of all things Lennon that one would expect—music, memorabilia, pictures, albums. I’m a big fan of John Lennon, but I don’t remember anything specific from that show, except for one thing—a crumpled brown paper bag.

The exhibit was marked: “Patient’s Belongings,” and it contained all of John Lennon’s belongings after he was killed, his body processed, and his clothing removed by the coroner.

Stark.

That image has stayed with me, and I saw the exhibit four years ago. For me, it was a metaphor for life, no matter who we are. Though Lennon lives on through his music, he left this world as we will all leave it, with nothing of value we can take with us.

For many of us, who we touch, love, spend time with, and share of ourselves will be our lasting legacy.

With a circle of friends that extends out from a small family, I consider the readers and writers whom I’ve connected with over the past several years as important in my life.

This season, I will spend time thinking of you and how you have enriched my life, how material goods will never replace what you mean to me. Even the occasional email you send my way is worth more than any diamond, which to me is worthless, so don’t send me one.

In this fast world where we are sometimes overburdened with too many tasks and too little time, I never want to be someone who doesn’t take the time for those I love most. That includes the readers of my blog and books.

Thank you.

In the end, none of us will be defined by the ‘stuff’ we have, but by the kindness we’ve shown, the love we’ve shared, and more than anything, by the gratitude we’ve shown others.

Wishing all love, warmth, health, and happiness,

~ eden ♥

xmas msg 2014

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