by Liz Johnston
What’s your story? I’m curious. Why are you alone at the edge of this pool on Christmas morning? When you complained about the reggae playing loudly over the speaker instead of Christmas carols, I detected a Massachusetts accent. So what brings you to Florida? And why are you alone at the holiday?
We all have our stories. I just didn’t have the courage to ask about yours in person--for fear I’d make you sad about it. Same way I was glad you didn’t ask about mine. Instead we just wished each other a Merry Christmas. Which couldn’t be further from reality. Nothing merry here today.
I am here today because I lost my son Jordan in October. I knew I wouldn’t be able to outrun my grief. I’ve tried. It follows me. Just like the holidays do. Halloween crept up behind me without notice and Thanksgiving rushed in soon after. So I don’t know why I thought Christmas might hold off without Jordan. But back at home, the snow fell, the family gathered, the presents flowed, and dinner was eaten. All without him. I’ll never understand how.
I’m sure you know the old adage. Time marches on. It waits for no one. So no matter where I go, here I am--knee deep in sadness. But my sadness is a reflection of my love. And that love is my story. The story of extraordinary love between mother and son. But I’m still glad you didn’t ask. Because today I just wanted to pretend that somehow my story had a different ending.
There are others gathered at the pool now. They have stories too. But I won’t ask about them--just in case they are trying to outrun their sadness, hide from the holidays or pretend--if only for a moment. No, Instead, I will imagine their stories. I will pretend to know what they carry in their hearts. And because of the possibilities, I will wish them a happy holiday; I will be kind. Always kind.