December 24, 2014
It’s Christmas Eve. 11:44pm…almost Christmas day. My heart is with Opi right now. Right before leaving Omi’s house, I went to stand in the family room by myself and I imagined him sitting there in his chair with that tired but content smile on his face watching us. I could see him carefully unwrapping his presents and holding them up to his cheek to stroke. I could hear him singing Leise Rieselt der Schnee an octave too low and laughing until red blotches would appear in the wrinkles on his cheeks.
Last year I remember savoring every moment with him, thinking that it would probably be his last. I miss him in his green or red vest and I miss him asking me what I want to drink. I miss him saying grace at dinner, and drinking his scotch, and smoking a cigar. I miss how his hands felt, and the lines on his forehead, and smoothing down the thin wisps of his hair.
I just took out everything I have from him – his black comb, his blue sweater, his prayer book, the card he wrote for my graduation just days before he left. I can’t stop crying. It’s like he’s gone for the first time all over again. I wish he was here. I wish he could come back. I wish he had never left in the first place. I wish people didn’t have to go. Maybe it’s selfish of me to think like that, but I’m thinking it all the same.
I feel so empty and incomplete without Opi. The sting of losing him feels just as sharp all these months later. I know that one day the list of people I’ll miss on Christmas will be so much longer; Opi is just the first. Isn’t that a scary thought? I know that other people and other families are going through similar or worse things. I know that the pain I’m feeling right now is an indication of my heart’s capacity to feel and to love…I just wish it didn’t feel like this sometimes.
I loved Opi with all my heart and isn’t love what Christmas is all about? Mary and Joseph in the stable on that cold and dark winter’s night with baby Jesus…thank you Jesus for teaching me how to love. I’m so thankful I know how to love. Happy Birthday. I know my Opi is up there celebrating with you in Heaven.
Frohe Weihnachten, Opi. Ich liebe dich.