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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I pick up the receiver and speak politely to the caller with my “work voice” (as my husband calls it). “How may I direct your call?” I ask. “Graham Berkeley please” says the caller. I stop short, not knowing how to reply. Then, I simply tell the caller that Graham is no longer with the company. Everything in my day is now colored by this one phone call. Graham is indeed no longer with the company, because he lost his life on a plane that made its fiery contact with the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

That day and those that followed closely are unfolding in my memory. In the six years since, not much helps to soften the vivid images or the recollection of chaos that followed. At this time of year in particular, when family ties are so important, it’s difficult to think of families like Graham's, whose holidays are forever changed.

I often let the holiday season overwhelm me. I spend my time in worry of the right gift, the bank account, or getting it all done in time. I have a number of Christmases past that do not have the sweet memories written about in poems. The phone call has me thinking things over. I pray that all of Graham’s past Christmases with family were memorable. In this way, they will miss him, yes, but remember fondly the gatherings they once shared.

I think of my own Mother’s last Christmas. She lay in a hospital bed, sick with cancer and debilitated by stroke. I bought her a new nightgown that year. It was pink with a flowery print, silky on the outside, but fuzzy against the skin. By Easter, she had no more need of this nightgown. It came back to me, and each winter I wrap myself in it and think of Mom. It’s one thing to loose your mother, another to loose your child. Oddly enough, the name of Graham’s mother is the same as my mother. I wonder if Pauline Berkeley has something of her son to comfort her nights as I do.

I’m done with “baa humbug”. This year, I’m going to sit back, watch my grown children interact with each other. I’ll chase Aiden around the house and tickle his little tummy. I’ll top off my day by sweeping little Paulina into my arms and smothering her with Memere kisses. Before the year is out, I’ll say all the good things that need saying and hug those that need hugging. For this will soon be Christmas Past and memories often live longer than we do.

1 comment:

Paul T said...

Pat,

Thank for the blog, although reminding me of Graham's loss also made me sad, I'm glad you took the opportunity to put it into personal perspective. I too will enjoy the holidays. Having a 4 year old and seeing everything through his eyes is so wonderful.