Today I cried in Macy's. I mean waterworks, nose snot, and chest spasms. Why couldn't I stop and what was the cause? Was it the older mom who accidently bumped her head on the clothes rack and whose adult son showed quick concern...the two cashiers well into their 70's ringing customers with kindness...or the Christmas music playing gleefully through the speakers? In that moment, I only could think about one thing...I miss my Grandmother.
It's been a little over two months since she passed away and thankfully I have come through the heaviest battles of grief. Most days, I can look up at her picture tucked sweetly in my car visor and begin my day. But today, I felt like the pain had returned. I was heartbroken that my family was planning our annual Christmas celebration without her. I would miss the famous apron, eating dressing, laughs, hugs, and receiving my container of "too sweet" sweet tea. I was sad and I let it all come out...in public...in the Macy's checkout line.
So, I gathered myself together, paid for my items and left the store.
Since I was at the mall, I also picked up a Christmas item from Claire's. As I greeted the employee, her pleasant smile and friendly attitude brought peace to my spirit. As she got my items, I did the nice small talk thing. I asked, "Are you looking forward to the holidays?" She looked at me and answered honestly, "No, I'm not...my mom is sick with cancer." For the next 10 minutes, I engaged with her and listened to her struggles. How it's been an emotional roller coaster with doctors, hospitals, stress on her family and that this year she didn't even bother to put up a tree.
She sighed, we shared and I offered to pray for her mom.
In this moment, I slowly began to realize what was happening. As I simply listened to her struggles... I gave her the gift of being heard. Me? I mean right after being an emotional reck...how did I have space to support someone else? Although I may never see her again, I was grateful that we had connected. I realized that showing love to others is the recipe to healing our own lives.
So this year, the first Christmas without my Grandma, I've decided to lead the effort to honor her memory. I will gather all the previous holiday videos to help us laugh, create a game where each family member can share their memories, and intentionally speak her name. And when the tears flow, I will allow all of my emotions to be felt.
My Grandmother Delores was a great listener, giver, and friend. She is still present, because I carry pieces of her with me everywhere I go. As I reflect that love out in the world, I will continue to heal this Christmas season.