I had just come down with a case of the flu. I felt the aches and pains in my legs and at the bottom of my back. Earlier, it was clear that I was not feeling well but I had no idea what was on its way.
In any case, I was out and about before the sickness took hold. We were a day away from Christmas and I headed out to hear my friend’s band play for a few hours.
I went to a place not too far from home and ran into old friends from a long time ago. And this was good to see. It was like my extended family getting together for a holiday gathering. We laughed a little bit. We cheered for my favorite band called Exit Verona. We danced a bit and then it was time for me to go.
The feeling of sickness became progressively worse, which is why I left early. Besides, the flu had already come for my wife. She was home in bed, sick as ever, and suffering through her own symptoms. Me, on the other hand, I thought I would be able to dodge the bullet. But I was wrong.
I was at a strange time in life. We were caught between the pains of financial difficulty and family arguments. It seemed as though it was us against the world. There was no one around to help us and no way through, except for straight ahead. These were the toughest times but still we had more than we recognized
I was heading home from the venue when the symptoms took over. I felt weak. I was congested. My head was heavy and I had a fever.
All I wanted was to get home, get undressed, put on some comfortable sweats and a sweatshirt, and then lay my head down on a pillow until I could sleep my symptoms away.
When I arrived home, my wife was sleeping with all three dogs sleeping on my side of the bed. Usually, I would make them move but on this night, I decided to go down and lay on the couch next to the Christmas tree.
All the lights were off except for the tiny white ones that glistened from behind the tinsel on the branches of the tree. There were Christmas lights around the window and lights across the room, which were soft and comforting. I swear, this was better for me than the antihistamines
Please understand, I did not grow up with Christmas decorations. At best, we had a Menorah, which was only lit at night and it was certainly less enthusing than a houseful of decorations, nutcracker statues, tree-lights, ornaments, and socks hung by the stairs. I watched television and the glow from the picture flickered in an electric blue and brightened the room to a comfortable shade.
I watched Jesus of Nazareth, which has always been a holiday favorite of mine. The movie is long but still, I have always enjoyed it.
I watched It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and enjoyed my favorite line in the movie, which comes at the end, when Little Zuzu points to a bell ringing on the Christmas and said , “Daddy, look. Teacher says, every time a bell rings, an Angel gets its wings.” to which George Bailey replied, “That’s right to his little girl.”
“That’s right,” he said.
“Atta boy, Clarence.”
Clarence was the Angel that earned his wings . . .
Clarence left George Bailey with a gift. t was a book and written inside the front page was the words
No man is a failure who has friends
Thanks for the wings
There is something I felt this night which I had never felt before. I felt a spirit within me. I felt the warmth of this magical time of year- and though times were tight and funds were low, I had less and lived on very little, but I was happy to be who I was.
I found myself in the dimness of perfect lighting, feeling fine, while feeling sick.
In a word, I was grateful I had a home. I had a family. I was surrounded by love, and in all honesty, this was the time when I realized that I didn’t need anything else.
I fell asleep thinking about the wholesomeness of Christmas. I thought about The Old Man and that Christmas when he passed.
I told him:
I think I’m gonna move on now Pop. I think you understand what I mean. I know you understand because if you were here, I know you would tell me, it’s okay, kid. I’m fine now. I know you would tell me that life is made for living. So live it. Sort it out and figure out how to make it through.
You would tell me, “You can do it, kid. I know you can.”
If you were here, I know you would tell me that dying is part of living. You would say, “So don’t worry about me, son. I’m okay where I am.” You would say this is the way life is and that wherever you are is exactly where you are supposed to be.
When people pass away, we sometime find ourselves feeling guilty if we decide to live regardless to their deaths. Sometimes we feel like we’re “Supposed to” cry because if we don’t cry and if we don’t feel the pain, somehow, this means we didn’t love the person. I know this is not true. I know this because I know I love you, Pop. I always have.
I wished he was there with me to see the house and the Christmas lights. I wish he was there to see my home and see what I was doing with myself.
Last night, I woke up at 3:00am and couldn’t fall back to sleep. Instead of tossing and turning, I went down to the living room to lay on the couch and look at the Christmas tree. And do you know what? The magic worked again. Maybe it’s the wholesomeness. Maybe it’s the purity of the reason behind the season. I think I’ll have to watch Boys Town soon. I want to feel the feelings I felt back when I saw it for the first time. I want to feel the way I did when I was lost and confused because when I look at where I am, I realize that I was never really lost per se, I just never knew what I was looking for was within me the whole time.
PS: Hey Pop,
If you’re reading this, I want you to know that we had a problem downstairs with the plumbing. I was able to fix it too. I did it just like you used to do back when we lived in the house at 277 Merrick Avenue.
There’s so much I wish you were here to see right now Pop. But for now, I’ll just listen for the bells because little ZuZu said, “Every time a bell rings, an Angel gets its wings.”
Remember my loved ones and help me to hold them close within my heart until I am welcomed into your Kingdom to see them again.