by NotDownOrOut

Sue, my high school debate partner, stopped by today and brought lunch. We have known each other since the late 1960’s when we attended the local junior high school together. We had a great chat, and it was the perfect ending to my time at my mom’s home. Sue is the kind of friend who I might not see for awhile but we get together and are immediately on the same page.

We need to see each other more frequently. I was exhausted last night after a full week of work, a Friday snowstorm, Kathy’s departure at about 4 a.m. on Saturday, teaching my legal writing class Saturday, and my night spent alone at Mom’s house. By the time Sue left for her house I had the energy to pack up my car and head back to my apartment.

I have not lived in my apartment for an entire month. I have stopped by there on one occasion to get materials for my Friday law school class.

It felt good to walk in and listen to the twenty-eight voicemails on my message machine.

I had mail, including a package from Roberta. She had packed a box with little surprises that it took an hour to open.

There was a pashmina in red and black that is beautiful She bought me several little hats that could cover the thinned out hair atop my head. Each came with a matching scarf. There was a scarf like the one I described in an earlier posting. It formed a circle or cowl. It is beautiful. There was a little journal for me to write notes in. She included several guardian angels, a lovely teacup, a bracelet, a necklace, touchstones, cards, short messages of encouragement, small stuffed animals that made me smile, and most importantly, a rush of friendship and love that overwhelmed with its warmth.

That is not the only gift I received this week. Michael and Alice sent me a CD of soothing guitar music. Home has become even more soothing and protective. Kathleen, my landlady, had left a message of concern for me as, when I last spoke with her, I planned to be away only a couple of days over Christmas.

I stepped on a scale and realized I had lost at least another 17 pounds this month. I may be facing mounds of clothes that don’t fit me any longer, but my home surrounds me with reminders that I am not alone. I’m going to need those reminders. This week I will start another new class, bringing my courseload to five classes. That’s going to keep me busy. Add to that two doctors’ appointments, and I will soon be missing Kathy.

Speaking of Kathy, she stayed with me for three weeks. I do not have words to thank her for this tremendous gift of love and caring. I already have described all the things she has done for me. What really matters to me most is that it has been many, many years since we have been together for three weeks. Her daily companionship filled all the empty places inside me. I have heard that people who lose a limb may experience phantom pain from the missing limb. I don’t think there is an equivalent for people who lose an organ or two–as I did. However, ever since my operation in October, I have felt that something was taken from me. I had no dreams of having a child at age fifty-four. I am not suffering because I can no longer have children, but my hysterectomy was a reminder that I am neither married, nor a parent, and that I am likely to live the rest of my life alone. Kathy’s support and the gift of her time were reassurance that being alone is not the same as being lonely.

I have a sister and brother who have been so thoughtful and caring during these last couple of crazy months that I have been reminded that I am never really alone. On Friday night, Danny, Lisa, Kathy, and I gathered at Mom’s house for dinner together. The four of us laughed. Danny and Lisa drank some Raffaldini Vineyards’ wine while Kathy enjoyed her favorite box wine. Danny grilled some steaks. We watched some clever videos that Danny made. I had the Christmas holiday that I missed in December when I was in the hospital. There was a table at which family gathered. There were hugs and shared memories and laughter. We exchanged gifts in the form of jokes and stories. We were reminded that we are not alone and never have to feel that we will be.

I received gifts and messages of love from Michael, Alice, Roberta and Sue. I called Paul, Barb, and Roberta. I called Mom to check on her and was happy to hear she was having fun.

Tonight I am surrounded by Christmas cards that the postman delivered while I was away. I am now wrapped in a quilt on my sofa listening to soothing music. I am transported far away from the pain that persists in my body after treatment, poking, and prodding. Instead of contemplating this week’s planned medical procedures, I am typing about the pleasures of home and family and friends.

We can wait for a holiday to create and savor the sense of homecoming that holidays engender. There will be another family holiday in the spring when we gather for Easter. But the truly magical aspect of family is that they can create a holiday just by gathering around us. I’m calling it Christmas, but it doesn’t need a date on a calendar. This holiday that is homecoming needs only love to make it happen.

I am surrounded by love this holiday season. I am sheltered by that love from my fears and anxieties over what has happened and what will come. I celebrate the giving and receiving. I bask in the warmth of shared jokes and laughter. I do not know what lies ahead, but I know that my family and friends will be there with me whatever happens. I don’t smell evergreen trees. There are no colored lights or ornaments. Yet the holiday spirit fills me. Happy Homecoming one and all!