Throwback Post: I Wish I Had A River

*Today I am sharing a post from two years ago; the first holiday without my mom.*

December 19th, 7:30am. 24 degrees Fahrenheit. Sleet covered the valley starting yesterday. About 5 years ago we got snow on Christmas. When the temperatures started dropping yesterday, for a moment I hoped we’d have a white Christmas. I guess I’m looking for something to celebrate. We don’t usually get much snow, if any, in Alabama.

The Christmas Spirit has evaded me for much of the season. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, and sadly, it hasn’t gotten much better. We put up the tree, decorated the outside…but, the yearning, the excitement, the childlike wonder…it’s all gone now. And that’s been difficult for me to accept.

Yesterday however, something happened. Perhaps it was the cold weather, the ice on our front steps, the Christmas music, or the purchasing of our Christmas ham…I finally felt something. Not a full blown basking in holiday cheer, but there was a nudge, a small whisper. And while I don’t feel like myself yet, and I likely won’t for some time still…I did feel like maybe, deep down, there was still a part of me left, albeit wading through the muck and mire of grief.

3 years ago my mother and I charted out a harmonized duet of Joni Mitchell’s, “River”. Easily one of the saddest Christmas songs of all time. Joni so eloquently brings the listener down into her perspective. In the way only excellent songwriters can, we can see what she’s seeing, hear what she hears, feel what she felt.

And I heard it and it broke me. I sat back in my big, old chair in my living room and sobbed, staring out past our Christmas tree into a blur of holiday lights and candles.

I cried for the loss in that song, for the imagery I’ve been plagued with this past month, and for the duet I will never again sing with my mother. Even now I can hear her softened soprano rising above my alto voice, sailing along the melody while she soared even higher. I miss her voice so desperately these days. For years we lived thousands of miles apart, a relationship built around telephone calls. I miss her voice drifting through the speaker in my phone. I miss her songs.

And I thought to myself that my love for Christmas would be forever tainted or stolen away. But, maybe being able to mourn her through Joni’s words brought enough release, a bit of holiday cheer slipped out with the tears. I will always miss her. I will always wish we could sing Christmas songs together still…cook a large Christmas feast once more…surprise each other with small, significant gifts again…

But, those days are behind us. And while broken as I am, I will trudge through. Because it’s Christmas. And that’s what Mom would have wanted. And that’s what we must do.

Even if sometimes I wish I had a river…I could skate away on…

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