i needed to run an errand to the drugstore. since it's christmas eve i headed out fearing the worst. turns out in my little corner of the world there was no traffic at all. so instead of turning to the drugstore i just kept driving.
i've been thinking about my father all day. missing my family terribly. missing home. and as i drove i thought about how much my father loved to drive. and about how much he loved christmas.
people have asked in the past why it is i 'let' my kids believe in santa claus. why i would lead them down the path of 'the big lie.' and i always chuckle because i believe in santa as much as my children. maybe even more.
i've made no secret that my childhood was a struggle. on many levels. when i was little there were times we had no heat or light. no electricity. once we did without a refrigerator for three months until my father could afford to replace it. i didn't get new school clothes until i started working at 13 and bought them myself. there were long stretches without a working vehicle. but we never went hungry and santa always came.
and the thing is, i *knew* from a very early age that the gifts under the tree weren't 'really' from santa. i just knew. but that never stopped me from lying in bed at night thinking about christmas and dreaming and wondering what santa would bring me. and even though i knew my father was responsible for pulling santa off and even though i knew we were ever on the margin, that there wasn't money for the basics at times, even though i knew this...santa always came. i don't know how, but he did. and every year it was like a christmas miracle. (i'm sure my father thought so, too.)
and that's how i learned to dream. to imagine that it could be different from what it is. that even though you can't always see it, it's there. possibility. it's there and it exists and the *only* thing you need is to believe.
and so my kids believe in santa. and i never stopped. and today while i was driving i was thinking about my father and santa and my heart was hurting so deeply i began to cry at a stoplight and knew i had to pull over. the light turned green and i made my way to the next driveway. and parked the car. and sobbed.
there's so much more to say here but i've said it all. and repeated it. and then said it again. this is such a humbling bumbling silly mortal process. and it sucks. and there are moments that REALLY suck. but i see the light, here and there. i know it ebbs and it flows, i know i know i know. that it won't get better, just different. i believe in the process. i trust that i'm right on track. but mostly i am just sad. today especially.
so i had my cry and wiped my tears. took the breath you take after sobbing deeply and looked around. and realized i was in a wendy's parking lot. and thought about a thanksgiving years ago when we lived with a baby duke in san francisco. and i was missing my family then, too. only it was because we moved a 1000 miles away, not 3000. and my father wasn't dead, just on the other end of the telephone.
and he asked me what we were going to do for thanksgiving and i told him we were going to wendy's. and he said oh honey, i hate to think of you guys eating at a fast food place on thanksgiving. and i chuckled. dad, i said, wendy is a friend of mine! we're eating at her house! and he chuckled.
so we spent that thanksgiving with wendy. wendy who had just the year earlier nursed the brand newly born duke while i spent two days receiving blood transfusions in the hospital barely able to sit up. when i couldn't, she did. and the re-telling of that story happened *just* today on a certain social networking site.
a wendy's parking lot. where i could most certainly get a cheeseburger. amazing. because if one was taking a quiz on sillymortalmama and got the question 'what is sillymortalmama's favorite food to eat after an emotional upset?' the answer to that would be 'a cheeseburger.'
ah life. sometimes it really is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
so i got out and got a cheeseburger and ate it in the parking lot of a wendy's on christmas eve so very far away from those i love the best with teary eyes and a broken heart.
and then, i felt better.
just like that.
so i wiped my mouth and dried my tears.
and then i drove home.
so it goes.