I’m trying to figure out how to put my new life together. It’s been eight Christmases since I lost my mother and 11 since I lost my dad, and I still am trying to figure out this “new normal.” Especially this time of year.
Maybe it’s like following a recipe. I don’t mean that grief is about precise steps that always lead to a certain ending like a great tasting dish. I mean that finding a new normal is about mixing ingredients. Mixing what was and what is.
It’s amazing what combining granulated sugar, cocoa, salt and butter will do. I don’t want to eat any of those ingredients alone. Together, they make fudge.
I’m thinking about recipes because I took my parents’ Better Homes and Gardens recipe books off the shelf in the dining room cabinet the other day. They’d been there since I was a kid. At Christmas, I used to take the “Cookies and Candies” book down and open it to the “fantastic fudge” page, and I’d stare at the photos. Each piece of fudge is wrapped in a red Christmas bow.
The duty of removing the recipe books from their home is especially sad because the dining room cabinet is one of the last places to thoroughly inspect. By combing through their things, I rediscover my parents. They feel close. I’m afraid after this job is finished, I won’t be able to feel that again, at least, not in the same way.
The first Christmas after Mom died, leaving me with no parent, I found hers and Dad’s ornaments and decorated our tree with them. Now we use their ornaments with our own. We mixed the old and the new. But my new normal is disrupted by an old longing. I want to go home Christmas Eve. I want to walk through their door and see them again.
I’ve been thinking about this mixing business because I can’t relive those days. What will I mix with that salt – that irritating inability to be with my parents again – to make “fudge”?
I know I can’t bring them back, but I also should not ignore the blessings of Christmas present – a loving husband, faithful friends, good health, and an exciting career. My parents aren’t here, but they gave me a great foundation to build a life. They meant for me to live that life to the fullest. By mixing it all together, I endeavor each day to find a new normal.
What memories of Christmas past and blessings of Christmas present will you combine to create a new normal?
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