A radio station where I live began playing holiday music 24/7 the day after Thanksgiving and will be playing it through December 25. “We wish you a merry Christmas.” “Happy Holidays.” “Have a jolly holly Christmas.” I walked into my OB/GYN appointment last week and there it was, playing on the radio. The office manager/receptionist who I have known for over 23 years now, ever since I became pregnant with our first child and began frequenting the office, told me she didn’t even notice the music – it was like white noise to her. Not to me. To me it is saccharine and cloying and vapid. It is jagged and mean and clueless. Songs that bombard with words like Merry and Happy and Joy ignore that for many people, especially those who are struggling with sadness and grief, these words hurt because of their dissonance. I felt this dissonance acutely last week as I stood in the office where I had previously held such excitement and anticipation for my babies’ arrivals, now hearing music that I have come to dislike because I have learned first-hand that children can be born with or develop fatal conditions from which they die … and that the grief that follows the diagnosis changes forever how we take in art, literature, poetry, music, friendship, life.
Despite all of this, I love this time of the year. I love it for how it calls me to focus on what matters most to me. At the very top of my “What Matters Most” list is Kindness. I believe Kindness is at the root of everything and is actually attainable. I don’t have to feel Merry or Jolly but I can be kind to others and I can seek out kindness in others.
In the Season of Kindness, and on this public platform, I want to celebrate and recognize Meg who has been the model of friendship and loving kindness to her friend Sarah, a CPN mom whose daughter Emerson died several years ago at the age of two from a rare condition. During Emerson’s short but beautiful life, Meg was there for Sarah, Emerson and Steve, Emerson’s dad. She came to Emerson’s enzyme-infusion sessions at the hospital, holding Emerson and keeping Sarah company (image of Meg with Emerson below). She and her daughters hung out at Sarah and Steve’s home, playing with Emerson and celebrating family together.
Sarah has shared with me that since Emerson’s death, Meg has felt at a loss for how to support her friend. Meg and her husband have three delicious daughters. Emerson is thus far Sarah and Steve’s only child. Sarah has also shared that Meg gets it better than she realizes. Meg shows up again and again with gestures of loving kindness, always ready to talk about Emerson or just listen.
It was thus with actual Joy in my heart that I went up to Vermont this past weekend to attend the wreath-making holiday fundraiser that Meg hosted as a fundraiser for Courageous Parents Network … in memory of Emerson. This is the second year that Meg and her husband Mike have foraged for buckets-full of blue spruce, white pine, cedar, balsam, fir, holly and put them with rollers of colorful ribbons and vases of dried flowers and grasses for assembly into wreaths. In the second floor of their gorgeous barn overlooking Lake Champlain, with two gas stoves on either end of the floor, they assembled the materials around a long table outfitted with wire and branch cutters and wire frames. Hot chocolate, meatballs, cookies and crackers were nearby for munching. It was such a happy scene I thought my heart would burst.
My mother came with me, bless her, and together with Meg, Sarah, and Sue, another dear friend who helped Meg with the event, we made our wreaths. Other happy people arrived on a rotating basis, some with children trailing, to participate. One woman told me, “My wreath looked terrible last year but I just loved it so much last year, I had such a good time, I wanted to come again, just for the experience of being here.” This was kindness manifesting in a community making beautiful things out of nature in a peaceful setting filled with sunlight.
Along with the photos featured here, I took a mental snapshot to remember always. This is what this time of year, this season means to me. ‘Tis the season to be kind, to connect with each other, over simple things, and to care. Thank you Meg for being there for Sarah and Steve and for modeling the spirit of the season. And thank you for raising funds for Courageous Parents Network to help other families. You have given a gift that will keep on giving.
Featured here: Blyth and Mom Lyn; Meg and Sarah