Friday, December 15, 2006

The Ghost of Christmas Past

This is a duplication of the post on my CB site:

Yesterday was a ghostly day. The ghosts of Christmas past? Definitely.

Yesterday I attempted to reconcile all of our checks for ’06 for the third time using a popular software accounting system. My previous attempts had resulted in strange “balance adjustments” and “opening balances” being sprinkled about throughout the year in some arcane logic that escaped me. The results were that the numbers balanced at the end of the year, but the cash flow statements were all over the place.

Well, as they say, the third time was the charm and after giving the computer a stern talking to and nailing it’s “foot to the floor” with a firmly placed opening value, I was able to magically reconcile each months checks with no bogies showing up. But what I noticed this time around, now that I didn’t have accounting glitches popping up every other entry, was that I was tracing the last moments of someone’s life.

C handled the bulk of our financial business as I am sure I have pointed out in the past. This meant that she wrote most of the checks up until near the end when I undertook my much delayed apprentice role. So as I handled each of the checks written over the past 360 odd days, I watched her handwriting change as the combination of disease and drugs slowly affected her mind and motor skills. It was both touching and terrifying to relive the past year through such a seemingly innocent and common device.

Looking at the stream of checks that were written also tells a story of a family – who they were, what they did, when they did it. It reminded me of times and places, and mostly of a mother’s love for her family. These visits with the past are inevitable, especially at this time of year when we prepare to celebrate a major holiday and a calendar year’s passing. Aside from the social focal points that include family gatherings and annual parties between friends, there is the accounting wrap up which is much more involved for me this year. Aside from not having my VP of Finance with me anymore, there are elements that we have never had to address before – the closing of the books on a member of our immediate family.

For me, this is a difficult time. It is hard to enter into a time of year that is traditionally focused on “good cheer” and “family bonds.” Both sides of my family are struggling with losses this year. Some of those losses involve the passing of loved ones from this plane to another where we cannot touch them anymore. Some involve a more subtle passing and metamorphosis, but the results can be much the same in that the family member cannot be reached as before and communication is pinched off. Which kind of passing is harder? I don’t know. All I know is that it is hard for those of us who are left.

This year is hard for me for another reason. The stresses and strains of the losses we have suffered have affected us all. In my case, I have said and done things that have offended some near and dear to me. Attempts to reconcile those wounds have not been successful. As a result, I will not participate in some of the family gatherings that are scheduled to take place, though my children will. I am saddened by this and can only hope that those of us who hold responsibility will continue to work at healing as we begin the coming new year.

I was to have taken a step on that path today when I would have had my first appointment with a family therapist who specializes in death and grief associated with cancer. This was something that I had been looking forward to for some weeks, but yesterday, the therapist called saying she had to cancel due to a sick child. How well I know what that is like and wish her and her child well, but all the same, I was very disappointed. Due to both of our schedules, I cannot get in to see her until early January. The thought of continuing on in this broken fashion is very tiresome.

I hope that I am not painting a misleading picture by sharing these things. All is not gloom and doom by any means. I think that all-in-all, we are doing pretty well given the circumstances. K and J continue to do well in school and to have a rich life socially. The Christmas tree and decorations are up and I haven’t yet managed to soak the brightly wrapped presents under the tree with my clumsy watering techniques. We have a little vacation planned between Christmas and New Years that we are looking forward to. So, life goes on. Who knows, I may even get around to writing the dreaded Christmas letter sometime in February.



Blogger Sister Spikey Mace said...

It is the little mundane things that are so fraught with memory. I almost started crying, twice, at the salad bar the other day. I didn't expect that. But he is everywhere.

I find I don't want to see the calendar turn. 2006 still held him in it, albeit for half the year. 2007 will offer no such small comfort.

Hugs to you.

9:18 AM, December 15, 2006  
Blogger Limey said...

i don't think you paint a misleading picture. it's a complex picture is all. there are parts that are bright and shining and other parts which cast a dark shadow, a mixture of light and dark. it's odd the reminders we run across which take us back. i remember being reduced to tears over the last swallow of my grandfather's peach preserves on a snowy february day. i know it's not quite the same, just to say odd things trigger us.

i'm so sorry about the therapist schedule change. it's hard to anticipate some help or relief and then have it delayed when it is needed so badly.

9:49 AM, December 15, 2006  
Blogger cheesy said...

"Who knows, I may even get around to writing the dreaded Christmas letter sometime in February."
lol Thats when I NORMALLY get mine out!! P~~ why don't you just go ahead and go to the fam gatherings of the sis's... maybe that will be the perfect time to heal?
Good luck and peaceful days to you sweetie....

7:52 AM, December 16, 2006  
Blogger jules said...

You and your family are in my thoughts this Christmas.

8:34 AM, December 20, 2006  
Blogger BuccoTom said...

Merry Christmas Phaedrous. I wish you peace during this time of year.

10:06 PM, December 24, 2006  

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