Holidays a solemn reminder of loved ones lost

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Holidays without a loved one can bring sadness to the heart.

Memories drift and linger in the room from those who are dead and gone, grasping to any hope you will be reunited with them in the future.

There are special memories I reminisce about during Christmas.

Having my father pass away five years ago, changed the holidays. Not only was there a change in what my family did for the holidays and its dynamic, there was also an empty chair at the dinner table.

A silence in laughter, and a place that can never be filled in my heart.

Prior to my father passing we would either head to his mother’s, my Grandma’s house, every Christmas day before he became paralyzed and was stricken with stage-five cancer.

On Christmas Eve, I remember my brother and I falling asleep on the couch anxiously waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus.

Seeing my father take bites out of the cookies we set out for Santa, those are the things I miss.

I miss being able to grab my father’s hand, and tell him I love him, and feeling warm inside because my entire family is under one roof.

Holidays changed after my father fell ill. I feel my family and I cherished every moment with him more than before.

We would stay home for the holidays, and have it just be him, my mother, brother, sister and I. Although we aren’t a huge family, it was just the right amount for me. The happiness that lit his face the last Christmas we spent with him, I will never forget.

I even took him on a tradition he and I would do every Christmas since I was little. He used to take me to pick out our Christmas tree, usually just him, my brother and I. That year I took him and let him choose our Christmas tree.

These are the memories that are forever ingrained in my mind.

Since that year, it has been hard for me to bring myself to get a Christmas tree. It used to be one of favorite things to do, but has grown into something I’m scared to do — holding back tears while browsing the trees.

We knew we would have to let him go one day, and tried to prepare ourselves for it. The sad truth is no one is ever prepared to lose a loved one.

Whether it’s a family member far away, in disagreement with, or lost at the hands of tragedy the pain will always remain.

The saying “everything heals with time,” I feel holds truth. The wound will never heal, but things will get easier.

As I’ve grown into the person I am today losing my father had previously left me with a bitter chip on my shoulder, jealousy would strike me every time I saw a family together, or a little girl holding her father’s hand.

I have now let the chip on my shoulder disappear and have come to terms with the loss. It still hurts every holiday, but rather than grieving in depression I remember the happy memories that bring me joy and solace.

If there is one piece of advice I can give to those going through the same struggle I do every holiday: to keep faith and hope, grab hold of those important to you and always remind them how much you love them.

Remember this Christmas to express your gratitude and love to those who you cherish, because you never know God forbid if it will be their last holiday.