Saturday, December 28, 2013

Wonderful, awful season

As I noted in a November 2012 postI’ve kept two cards displayed on the table next to a basket of "sympathy" cards. Neither suggests Brandon's death is an event that will resolve in feelings of peace, comfort or healing. Each acknowledged the enormity of this particular grief and offered support while conceding a lack of understanding since neither had experienced the death of one of their children.

The basket of cards remains on the table. I've tried to reread them. I've tried to move that basket or place the cards in a box or plastic bag to save elsewhere, but I'm simply not ready to do either. The two "special" cards remain in place next to the overflowing basket. However, a third card has recently joined the other two. 

A day or two before Christmas I received a card from a long-time friend. (We go back to grade school and beyond. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding.) The card let me know that  she understood how difficult this season is for a mother missing her child and whose loss creates a black hole in her heart. To emphasize the card's words, this friend included a contribution for the foundation we started in Brandon's name to raise funds for innovative head and neck research. 

I am currently away from winter and Christmas festivities at home. Another friend and her husband offered to let my husband and I use their Florida condo this week, and it has been good to be in sunshine, warm breezes, flowers, and green grass and trees. Yet it means I can't include photos of the outside/inside of the card that joined two other special cards; I will add these photos to this post later this week.

**January 4, 2014 update - adding the outside/inside of the card photos…
Front (outside) of card
Message (inside)
 Thank you and a joyous 2014, dear friends!

Friday, December 20, 2013

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – NOT!

It’s December. Thanksgiving transitions seamlessly to Christmas preparations and celebrations. As a child and then as a mother of young children, December truly was the most wonderful time of the year. Grandchildren help pick up the slack as the magic begins to dim and is replaced by the occasional, “Bah humbug!”

As with everything else, the Christmas holydays are divided by “then” and “now.” And for some reason a line from another George Harrison tune keeps playing in my mind over and over. Back then, as a family, when we was fab, we weren’t perfect but we were together and intact. There was no black hole in my heart – a hole so deep it can never be filled. Now I feel frozen. Another year has passed and I still feel somewhat numb at times.

During December of 2012, I felt as if we were trying too hard to “make Christmas." This year some dear friends have offered us the use of their condo in Florida, and we’ve decided to go Christmas day. Our oldest daughter and her significant other are leaving with us. One of our twin sons and his family will be only 10 to 20 minutes away, staying with his wife’s parents.

Avoidance was a theme both last year and this one. Avoidance is a theme of the numb, of the frozen. However, those missing loved ones during special times of the year are more than aware that, whether one stays or goes, "you can run but you can’t hide”! Avoidance is simply another illusion.

I don’t feel magically merry this Christmas season, but I do want to honor those I love. And I want to honor Brandon, who would want all of us to enjoy time with each other during this special season of the year. 

I hope I’ve found some ways to honor loved ones still in this world, but I’d like to ask for everyone’s help to honor Brandon in one or a few special ways. 1. Brandon was always a kind person and he performed numerous acts of kindness. Some I knew of, but I’m only now learning of so many others. With that in mind, I ask you to perform a “Brandon Act of Kindness” in his honor during this holiday season – no matter how big or how small. (No act of kindness is ever too small!) 2. I don’t want any other family to have to watch their child, their sibling, their spouse – no matter how young or how old – die of a head and neck cancer and then have to live on with deep black holes in their hearts. If possible, consider a contribution to the Brandon C. Gromada Head & Neck Cancer Foundation to support innovative research focused on finding cures for these cancers.

3. Lavish your fab family with love during this blessed season…

Monday, December 2, 2013

To Everything There Is a Season

Two years ago tonight I was with Christina and Brandon as Christina labored to give birth to daughter Morgan. (Morgan would not make her appearance until the next evening on December 3, 2011.) I stayed awake and worked alongside Christina, as we both insisted Brandon try to get some rest after his chemo treatment earlier that day. 
Brandon gets his turn (after new mommy Christina's) to hold his newborn daughter, Morgan, skin-to-skin
Eighteen months ago tonight I was with Christina and the rest of our family as Brandon's spirit left the wonderful body that had gotten its start within mine…

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die…  Ecclesiastes 3