Thursday, 12 December 2013

The Twelfth Day of Advent - A Pause For Remembrance and Reflection

When you are seeking the brightest star, as our intrepid explorers are doing right now, up in a Winter night sky that turns and darkens and deepens ever more towards Christmas Day, you sometimes find yourself stopping and reflecting about past Christmases, because even though we are always being told to look forward and not backwards, because we need to be 'positive' about life, I think there is nothing wrong with sometimes looking backwards, because we are human beings and that is our nature.

And so it was this morning as I walked to work, pondering how to continue this story. This story, I thought, as the sun broke through the mist and glistened off the frosty pavement upon which I trod, needs to pause a while. It needs to time to reflect, to catch its breath amongst the chaos and hurly-burly that has happened so far.

I knew immediately what I was going to write about. It is something I have not mentioned on this blog before. And yet today, in the middle of this story, it suddenly seemed very important that I did. And it is this...

Twenty one years ago today, my younger sister, Jackie, died. She was twenty two years old. I could say that she had cancer - indeed, that was the disease that took her life. But she, herself, was so much more than that, and it seems wrong to define her by a single word.

So this was her...

...a massive, massive smile that lit up her face and any room she was in...

...kindness and humour, a friend of many friends...

...a very talented artist...

... known as 'Dougal' (as in 'The Magic Roundabout') because when she was little she had long fluffy reddish blonde hair which turned darker and redder and curlier as she grew older...

...as a small person tired of walking she would declare, 'My legs are puffed out!' When tired of eating, 'My teeth are puffed out.'

...a doting auntie who let her nephew and niece, then aged 4 and 6, run about in her NHS wigs looking like mini-Tina Turners...

...a collector of lovely hats...

...a sister who told me my scrambled eggs 'weren't as good as the ones Mum makes' causing me to tell her to make her own effing scrambled eggs...

...the only person I ever knew who could carry off wearing a clown costume without it looking sinister...

On this day, 21 years ago, door number 12 on Jackie's Advent Calendar, fixed to her bedroom wall, remained closed. Her funeral was one week before Christmas. We sang, 'O Little Town of Bethlehem.' It was sunny and frosty on that day, too, just like it has been today. 

But I don't remember another single thing about Christmas 1992. I know we 'did' Christmas, but that is all. 

And as the years have gone by, 21 now, it seems ever more important that Christmas is celebrated properly because you never know next year who might, or might not be there. 

Next year, there will be another baby, a second grandchild. That is something to look forward to. But the essence of the people we look back on are, to me, still there, too. Aren't they?

And so, as maybe you pause and think of those that won't, for whatever reason, be with you this Christmas, I leave you with the words of Kermit the Frog in 'The Muppets' Christmas Carol.' 

'Life,' he said, 'is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it.'

And tomorrow we shall be meeting up once more with the characters in our Advent Story, having today paused just a while for a moment of remembrance and reflection. 

Xxx



6 comments:

Countryside Tales said...

Oh my lovely you have made me cry. Some years ago now I lost a dear friend to breast cancer. When I told my ma she said: 'well, she's obviously done everything here that she was meant to do, and now God has called her home because he has things for her to do there."
No doubt your sis is smiling down on you and looking forward to seeing you again, when you've done everything here that you are meant to do. Big Kiss X

rusty duck said...

A lovely tribute to your sister Denise. Some days are still so hard, even though many years may have passed. xx

Olly said...

I'm so sad to hear that. Someone once said to me after my mother died 'you never get over it, you just get on with it' and that has proved true. It's always hard when anyone dies but to have it so closely associated with a time when everyone expects you to be celebrating is even harder. A lovely tribute to Jackie - she lives on in your words, even to us who never knew her.

Denise said...

Thank you, lovely ladies all. Your words have meant a lot.xxx

doodles n daydreams said...

A really lovely tribute to your sister, Denise. It seems you have some great memories to treasure.

Diana

Denise said...

Thank you, Diana. X