Endings Bring New Beginnings

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Although the holidays are behind us and we’ve finally taken down the Christmas tree, I can’t help but think that I have helped decorate and enjoyed the company of over 50 beautifully adorned Christmas trees in my lifetime. But so far, there is only one that will always remain in a tiny corner of my mind and heart. The day I laid eyes on it was the day I realized Christmas, as I had always known it, would NEVER EVER be the same again…

new beginnings

The Dark Days

The mini tree was on top of a TV stand in a hospital waiting room. That was the first detail committed to memory because the inconsequential details noted in times of crisis really stick and stay with you. Detail #2 was the date, 12/21/11. Less than 24 hours earlier, my husband and I were at Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, in search of the 7th kind of fish for Christmas Eve dinner. But now my family and I were waiting for test results confirming my dad’s diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer. I was the calm one on the outside, faking weak smiles and nods with my loved ones, while on the inside, I kept hearing a fave holiday tune, “And so this is Christmas…” interspersed with my own voice screaming, “What is happening?”

But regardless of my intense shock, things were changing and moving fast. What was about to happen was not what I expected or thought I deserved. My thoughts were that “the dark days” didn’t and shouldn’t have a place during the holiday season, at least not in my immediate family. We were supposed to be exempt from these happenings. And there, I finally took ownership of the immense amount of selfishness I was carrying around.

It has taken years to rid myself of these feelings, and lots of time to whittle away the bitterness and anger. Each of our lives are woven into the tapestry of life and it’s simply just part of the human condition. When the “dark days” arrive, unexpectedly or not, it could be July 4th, Thanksgiving or maybe August 6th. My sad story taking place during the holiday season just happened to be mine.

Then my sad story got sadder. After two major surgeries and the ferocious spread of cancer, my dad passed away only three weeks after Christmas, after driving himself to the ER symptom free! Wow, I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one!

And the darkest of days, Friday, January 13, 2012 (finally confirming, Friday the 13th definitely an unlucky day), all of his loved ones said good-bye to the best husband, dad, grandfather, and brother anyone could ever imagine. And the deluge of tears begins again, just like it has every holiday season since.

The first couple of years, I did my best to get through the holidays without stopping to think too much of my loss, and trying to weaken the onslaught of resentment of what the holidays should’ve been, but weren’t anymore. The continuous task of preparing and cooking big meals for one big hungry family was a wonderful distraction.

The Better Days

Amidst all these sorrows and tribulations, new and heart lifting truisms are born too. I don’t believe time heals these kinds of wounds. Even though the rawness of grief and loss does diminish a bit over the years, it never totally leaves you. It is possible to make new memories, while you file away the old ones in your mind, picking and choosing ones that can allow you to crack a smile, sometimes. Honestly, I didn’t believe it could happen because I wanted to hold onto the old memories so badly, but then along came my first grandchild and a new kind of Christmas was born, complete with a toy search and Santa books. 

We are making new memories that feel really good and put some sparkle back into the forlorn holiday season. Then taking it a step further, we now welcome New Year 2019 and new beginnings. Make no mistake, endings always bring new beginnings, and that’s what life is really about.

Wishing everyone a happy everything in the new year! Each and every one of us most certainly deserves it!  

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Fran was born, raised, married, and still lives in Mount Kisco, NY. She has four kids, including a teenage daughter and two precious grandsons, whom she babysits a couple of days a week. She also works part-time as an accounting clerk, helps run her husband’s excavation business, and lastly aspires to finish writing her book one day. Despite her crazy, busy schedule, she cooks almost every night for her big family and tries her best to keep up with the dishes! She truly believes spontaneity is the spice of life, and sometimes the very unexpected happens, but it’s usually all for the best. Enjoy her many tales of raising kids over 20 years; what an amazing journey!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Frances!! I can hear your voice telling this story! Thank you for sharing this hard, beautiful and encouraging chapter. And for filling my childhood with amazing Italian food, kittens, laughter and gentle guiding, and especially for raising my best friend! So happy for all of you now.❤️

  2. So true Fran my Dad died on Fathers Day dark days for sure. But it does not matter the times God takes us home. What matters if how I honor his memory and make my new normal in life.

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