The holidays. There are so many things to be grateful for. The blessings I feel everyday at home make me want to explode. I am married to the most selfless man I have ever known. He lives each and every day for me and our three daughters. There literally isn’t a thing he does without thinking of us. Not to mention he does 90% of the laundry. The only reason it isn’t 100% is because he doesn’t do my work clothes, lesson learned. But, he’s basically amazing! He gives his heart and soul to his job as a teacher and coach. Young men and women come into his life and leave forever changed. May seem dramatic to some, but not if you’re one of them. The amount of time and effort this man gives on a daily basis is more than some give in a lifetime. Then there are those three daughters. Each a gift I cannot imagine my life without. They are so uniquely different, but exactly the way God intended them. The each bring exactly what we needed to our family. I am blown away on a daily basis that I was given the opportunity to be their mom and I want them to be strong, confident young ladies, but humbled in knowing there is a greater purpose in life.
So, here comes the sad part. I lost my dad, suddenly 6.5 years ago. He dropped dead at the age of 51, just shy of 6 months after he walked me down the aisle. The pain and hurt that have followed is truly unimaginable. It’s a daily struggle, because those three beautiful girls of mine will never know my dad, their Papa. There are things that happen all of the time and I think, ‘I should call my dad and see what he thinks.’ This happens a lot. I see someone driving that looks like him, or hear a loud belly laugh and I turn my head, but nope, not him. I miss him so much and just want him back. And now it’s the holidays and it is so hard to not be happy when I feel so blessed in almost every part of my life, but there will always be a piece missing.
I know deep down my dad wants me to be happy. He wants the best for his three granddaughters and that it is ok to feel so grateful for the life I’m living and blessed to have my husband and my girls. That it is ok to feel this way even though he’s not here. There are times, many times, I have to remind myself, it’s ok to be happy, even when I feel guilty for feeling so happy because he’s gone.
But sometimes finding happiness can still be hard. My own family has literally crumbled since he died. I never thought I would be that statistic where the family falls apart, but here I am to tell you about it. There hasn’t been a single holiday I have spent in the last six years with my family that hasn’t been a disaster or people missing. I wasn’t even invited to my own family’s Thanksgiving this year. I have chosen for my husband, girls and myself to miss some family gatherings when things aren’t going great, because I don’t want my girls to be in the middle of that situation. I’m not going to fake it, but the way I grew up was surrounded by family at every holiday and special occasion. That is what makes the holidays so hard. Knowing that my girls won’t have that too.
With all that said, I have to lay my head on the pillow knowing one thing about the upcoming festivities. My daughters don’t know what they are missing. It is my responsibility to show them what love is and how holidays are supposed to be. I can’t make my family want to all be in the same place for a holiday, but my husband and I can surround our children in what is important to us. My husband’s family is far from perfect, (whose is?) but they come from all over and make every effort to be around my girls, loving and cuddling them.
Loving my daughters is the key to my heart, the way food is to a man’s heart. This Thanksgiving, it may seem impossible to sit down and give thanks and truly mean it when so much is weighing heavy on my heart, but having my people, my four people, my forever husband and three girls, that is what it’s all about.
I feel like I need to say life hasn’t been a total bummer since my dad died. There have been many happy times. It’s just, there are certain times of the year when my dad’s death seems harder. There are the obvious: anniversary of his death, birthday and holidays. But it’s the times that punch you in the gut that are the hardest, which led me to write this. My innocent girls asking questions because they can’t understand why Papa can’t come down to see them from Heaven and why they can’t go there for a visit. And, although my family has been forever changed, there have been good times. I just long for great times ahead. Never say never.
Well, there you have it. I hope that if you are dealing with loss or turmoil in your own family, that you can find the good. Find what makes you smile from the inside out and then rinse and repeat. Because living every single day hurting is one less day that we are given to choose happy. That doesn’t mean we can’t have a hard cry, but if you’re a mama like me, we need to show our children that life goes on. And if you don’t have kids, know that for you to be the best you for your husband or loved ones, it starts within. There will always be bumps in the road, but He will always be there for us. Have faith and trust in the timing. Control what you can and wake up; today, tomorrow, on the holidays and every day after that having confidence that you are choosing what truly makes you happy.
– Chrissy Jolley