December 14, 2009 - 3 comments

This I Believe

Last year during the holiday season,  I submitted the following essay to NPR's This I Believe. Although it was not selected to read on the radio, it does live in the NPR archives. As another holiday season approaches, and my brother's death is still fresh as the second anniversary approaches, I felt like the sentiment expressed in this essay still applies. And as a thank you to all of those who express their care and concern, it serves as a "thank you" once again.

Gerald Bartholomew. July 18, 1966-December 25, 2007.

This, I Believe
December 2008.

My brother died tragically one year ago on Christmas Day 2008. As this year’s holiday season approached, those of us who were most closely connected with him, and those who were our biggest support systems (in my case, my husband) were anxiously anticipating how it was going to be for us this year, on the first anniversary of the traumatic event.

It has been an emotionally charged year to say the least. I dedicated my energies to keeping in touch with my immediate family, planning a weekend-long memorial event in May, crying a lot, keeping his photo close whenever I did something fun or interesting, and desperately hanging on to his spirit. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to Christmas. It will never be the same for me. And I didn’t know what to do. I had so many debates with myself about whether to try and get everyone together, or go to those who I thought would be the most emotional, or spend it with my remaining brother (it was just the three of us), or our mom. But always being considered the “bossy” one, I didn’t want to be that person this year. I didn’t want to be the one to decide for everyone who should be with who, or whether people wanted to be alone with their own thoughts and emotions rather than having me invade that space. And I especially didn’t know those things about myself.

So I decided to take a much needed trip with my husband that led right up to Christmas, and then spend it quietly at home, bracing myself for the emotional turmoil…the anger, the sadness, the overwhelming sense of loss, the self-absorption.  And all of those things came in giant force.  But so did some other things:  the friends that sent the extra card in addition to their usual holiday greeting card, expressing care and concern at this difficult time of year; those that wrote an extra note in their holiday greeting card that they were thinking of my brother; the  group that took a moment during their Christmas dinner to raise their glasses of champagne and toast to his memory; the text messages, “Thinking of you and hope you’re doing okay”; the phone calls, “Just checking in. How are you holding up?” The throngs of “I love you"s .

And I noticed and appreciated every single sentiment. And I hope I didn’t forget to say “thank you” to everyone.  Just when I was wishing the holiday would just be over, I found the spirit of the season…and the gifts of love, friendship, and family, and the comfort of knowing that I am so very lucky to have that in my life.
I believe if that even in the worst of times, or in the depths of darkness, if you pay attention, you can see the goodness and the light. And I believe that is what Christmas is all about.

Published by: Connie Glover in Blog, Random Thoughts and Opinions


claudia Wisdom-Good
December 14, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Connie, I didn’t read this last year, and I must write to you to share in your feelings, concerns, sadness. I already feel this sad time of year approaching, it happens every year – since my Mom died in 1974. I know I should be well over it by now, but Christmas just seems sad to me. I love reading that you have found the spirit of the holiday season, and that you have in some odd, good way grown to make this time of year work for you, and grow closer to family, friends, etc. Thank you for writing this essay; I wish it had been published, as it spreads good wishes to each of us who hurt, especially around this time of year, for missed ones. Thinking of you and holding you to dear to my heart, always. I promise I will try and pay attention and see the light this year. Claudia

Farley Styles
December 15, 2009 at 1:59 am

Enjoyed your blog. Connie, I cannot imagine what you are going through. But just know you have friends, good friends, that think about you! Happier Holidays!

Connie's Mom
December 16, 2009 at 12:30 am

You never cease to amaze me. Just when I think I know who you are, you surprise me with something so beautiful that it makes me light up and cry at the same time. You said what is in my heart. And I am sure in the heart of all of Gerald’s family and friends and yes, just people who knew him.
Now read Frank’s email and know that we are all on the same page. We get through Christmas because we love each other and carry “G” in our hearts. Thank you to all who think of us at Christmas time. We appreciate that. Merry Christmas 2009, Mom

Leave a Reply