Among the junk & treasures in the closet, I found a stack of Christmas cards from 1998. You know, the cards that were supposed to be brimming with messages of ecstatic congratulations about the baby girl that was supposed to have been born in November. Of course, 1998 turned out to be probably the crappiest, most turbulent year of my life, made even more miserable by the death of my beloved grandfather in October.
I hadn't looked at the cards in quite a while. I had only kept the ones that people had written personal messages in. I had sent my own cards extra-early that year with an explanatory letter to pre-empt any enquiries or congratulations about the baby, and thankfully, I didn't receive any of those.
The vast majority of cards I received that year made absolutely no mention of the small pink elephant in the room in any way, shape or form. (To be fair, some had, of course, already called or sent condolences back in August &/or again in October.) Most of the cards containing messages simply relayed a few tidbits of family news and/or heartily wished us a merry Christmas (yeah, right) and happy 1999.
A few alluded in a general way to the sadness of the past year and wished better things for us in the new year:
- From one of my oldest and dearest friends: "I'm so sorry for all the grief you have suffered in the past year. You have been in my prayers. I hope 1999 is a much better year for you!"
- From a high school friend: "Sorry that your year hasn't been the best and hope that '99 brings you everything you wish for."
- From my sister's best friend since junior high days: "Although I know this time of year holds sorrowful memories, just remember what you did have and do have -- and remember how many people are thinking of you and wishing you well through the season and in 1999."
- From my cousin's wife: "We know this has been a difficult year. Hope you find joy this season and the year to come. You both are always in our thoughts."
- From an old friend (opening line of handwritten letter): "This is the toughest letter I've ever written -- I am so sorry. I can't even imagine what you've been through. You are in my thoughts." (Then she carries on blithely with news about her own family...!)
- From Cousin/Neighbour's wife: "...We know what a difficult year you've had so we hope that the New Year will bring you many wonderful things."
- "Do hope you and family are able to remember all your past Christmases and the joy of them and of having your Grandfather so many years. Enjoy your togetherness, you are very blessed to have such a good family."
- "I am so saddened to hear of the death of your daughter Katie. I cannot imagine how difficult this year has been for you. The two of you have been much in [husband] and my thoughts since I got your letter. I wish there were more we could do but we send our prayers and thoughts and wish you some peace this Christmas!"
- From my mother's cousin (who had recently lost his own young grandson): "Remember the good times at Christmas so that peace and contentment may be with you. And know that others share your sorrow and would, if they could, take it from you."
- "What a year you've had. You have a lot of courage and grace to get through everything the way you have. I'm proud of you!"
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.