During the holidays, the book Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderson keeps coming to mind.
This is a story about a young homeless child whose parents have both died. She is all alone in the world. During Christmas, this little girl is looking into a window of a family celebrating with a table full of food, fire in the fireplace warming the home with love and laughter.
While all of this is being observed by this young girl, she has no shoes, tattered clothing, no food, family, nothing to keep her warm but one little matchstick. She is missing her family with an ache in her chest. She lays down in the snowbank under the window she was just looking into and lights the match. She dreams of her mother and father. The light burns brighter and brighter as she falls into eternal rest.
This reminds me of how I feel about grief during this time of year.
I’m the little girl looking in on the family celebrations. Families intact and warm with laughter and togetherness. I ache for these days when we were all together enjoying each other’s company. As I write this, I can feel you giving me a hug. Just as in life, when you knew I needed one, you do so in death.
My matchstick is a candle given to me after you died.
I have three of them now, all throughout the house. I love these candles because when I am in the darkest of my grief, this simple candlelight reminds me of your soul shining bright. You are tugging me back from the consuming darkness to remind me that there is more life to live. I know you want me to have joy in my life even now after you are gone, but it is so hard to do so some days, some moments.
I remember when you told me that you did not realize how hard it was going to be for me after you died. You apologized for all the heartache your death was causing me. You also said that I have a lot to give to the community yet and I need to continue to do so. My own candle is not burning so bright these days. I have to heal more before I can fully give to the community again.
Every night I kiss you goodnight…
with the picture by my bedside and watch your soul flame as I close my eyes reminding me to dream of the light, not the darkness, until the light will come to me on its own.