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12.20.2011

THE DARK SIDE OF CHRISTMAS

I met a man yesterday.  He was 80.  A rough hewn sort of man who smelled like he had laid in a bed of crushed cigarettes.  He used a cane and labored to breath with every step.   Soaking wet, his frail bony frame looked like he weighed in around 130 pounds.  I could see years of life crammed in every age spot.  Every wrinkle.  Every cloud that rested now in his eyes.   Cliff needed help with his account.   I helped him.  I asked him if he had plans for Christmas.  "I hate Christmas", came his quick response twinged with a bit of anger.  "I can't wait for it to be over!",  he spoke finishing his thoughts.   I love anyone, that when asked a question, will speak truth - will say what they really feel not what they think you want to hear.  As his words came out I prayed God's blessing over him silently.  I asked God to give Him the love that he was missing.  "Cliff," I said, "Did you lose someone you love?  Is that why you hate Christmas?"  He began to tell me that four years ago he lost his wife of  58 years.  Her name was Dee.  He told me how much he loved her.  That four years later he finds himself not being able to move forward or have the loss lessen.  He shared about his kids, a bit of life with me.  All of it was peppered with a sort of love wrapped in quills.  He told me that Dee was smart - without much tolerance for dumb people.  I liked this woman already!  He told me he copes by swearing ALOT!  I laughed at his method of coping.  In a bit softer voice, with emotion lining the words, he said he talks to her every day.  Sometimes he feels a response.  Always does he feel her presence though.  He looked at me frankly and said, "58 years brings something that can't be defined.  There is a comfort with one another.  A way of life.  Layers of love and life lived together."  I understood for the first time what living hand in hand in love felt like.  I felt his words hit my heart.  I felt them cause a bit of a tear to be forced back thinking of his pain of absence.  Someday I would know that same pain of the absence of love as well.  I told him I hoped the week was not too heavy for him.   That this week he could find a way to live in the sweet world of memories.  I also told him Christmas means we are closer to Spring than before.  He smiled at my positive way of looking at Christmas and the thread of irony in heartache.

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