On Christmas morning eight years ago, my family went to an early church service and came home to spend quality time. My dad wanted us to hang out and open gifts as a family, but I really wanted to hang out at IHOP with my friends. So... I went to IHOP for a couple hours and came back home. My dad was over me, but I didn't care. Technically, I was grown, and I didn't do anything wrong. Looking back, I now realize how insensitive that was, but at that point in my life, I just wanted some space. I don't remember if we had a fight, or if we just did that passive-aggressive, radioactive silence thing that we used to do. As always, my mom tried to keep the peace. I don't know what my sister was doing, but she was around, I'm sure.
My mom looked at us all and said, "This year, let's not do this. I have a feeling this Christmas is a special one." I had chills. We stopped fighting and enjoyed the day. That was mommy's last Christmas. She died in the summer of 2011.
And that was our last Christmas as a family, I think. At least that's the last one I remember. I grieved by working. I pushed myself for two straight years with very little down time. Somehow I managed to create a healthy relationship with my boyfriend. I honestly think he was sent by God to help me keep my sanity, but that's a conversation for another day. Most of my life then was hard, but it felt like a blur. I can't remember much of it, including the holidays. Somewhere in there my boyfriend asked me to be his wife... I love him with all my heart. I said yes.
After that, I spent almost every holiday season with his side of the family. Every once in a while, we'd change it up and visit my extended family. But it was never my old family nucleus. I was normally with my man's family. Doing Christmas their way. Enjoying their company. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE my man's family. But holidays are interesting. Being with someone else's family put me in neutral. It wasn't bad. It wasn't good. It was different. And I wasn't 100% there.
We both noticed this pattern, so we decided to do Thanksgiving differently this year. We were going to just be with my side of the family. I was so excited! We were even going to recreate a thanksgiving we had with my mom years ago. It was time. I thought my family and I had grieved the appropriate amount of time and were ready to be together. Just us. Like old times. I was ready to be with my people.
That's the best way I can describe it. For the life of me, while we were eating and playing games I couldn't figure out why it didn't feel like old times. It was cool. I was grateful. Still am. But I didn't know how to feel while it was happening.
The next day it hit me like a ton of bricks. Mom was missing! This was the first time I went into a space where she would normally be, and she wasn't there. All the other holidays, I was in new environments, so I didn't feel it nearly as much. I grieved all over again and felt stupid for doing it. It's been 7 years! Get over it already.
This is what this Thanksgiving taught me about me. I've been just "getting through" the holidays the last 7 years. Just coasting. Not wanting to be effected. Then I accidently faced my pain and learned just how little I've enjoyed the holidays since loosing mommy. This year, I actually MISS her. And it's okay.
I also learned that I thought grief would stop completely after a few years. It hasn't. I'm not hurting every day like I used to, but it still hits me in the gut every now and then. That's not a bad thing. It just means I miss her.
I told my man I want to keep Christmas really low key this year because this is the first holiday season I'm actually feeling the loss. Will it look like this every year? I don't know. But this year, I will be kind to myself and my family. Love in truth. And figure out a way to honor God and my mother's memory, even if it hurts a little.
Christmas and I are beefin' this year, but it's okay.
About me . . .
I'm Cyrah Hill. I'm a woman of faith, an actor and an everyday black girl.