Christmas Sucked This Year But Taught Me Some Lessons

*WARNING* – This title isn’t one of my usual, pithy, one-liner jokes to get your attention.  I really do have a tragic tale to tell this time that’s very sad and personal. I don’t usually lay bare my deepest emotions so I find this difficult to write yet necessary.  I know some of you will ask questions that I will find hard to answer when I see you at class so I feel the need to share.

I excitedly announced to many of you that my sister, Melissa was due to give birth around Christmas time.  She is only a year younger than me so we have a very close and special relationship.  I was beside myself with anticipation when she went into labor.  I patiently waited up to hear more news.  However, when I received it, my heart sank to depths deeper than I knew existed.   Things had gone terribly wrong and her little baby girl Aydah was unlikely to survive long.  The 18 days that followed were emotional to say the least; heartbreaking, devastating yet amazing all at the same time.

Little Aydah passed away peacefully on 3 January and was much loved during her time here.  In fact, I’d say of all the troublesome women in our family, she caused more of a stir in her short life than all of us put together!

There are a few valuable life lessons that I experienced firsthand during this time.

  • Christmas is a sad time for some families.  I’d always paid this lip service but now I understand completely.  Sometimes when people are cranky for seemingly no reason, I can understand now that it may be because they are experiencing tragedy.  I’m ashamed to say that during this time, I got cranky with several random strangers.  Really I just wanted to explain and say “I’m sorry, I’m really not myself at the moment.”  I’m going to remember this and be kinder when someone acts out of character and enquire further as to how they are going instead.
  • The rest of the world carries on as usual. That can seem unfair and made me want to SCREAM but at the same time, it was an opportunity to just breathe and feel whatever I was feeling.  Much like in a yoga class during meditation time, I’m sure some of you have experienced overwhelming emotion.  I usually advise you to just go with it so I took my own advice.
  • Family & friends are everything.  I’m so glad I maintain my relationships with close friends and family so there is someone to turn to in times of need. Often we are too busy to make time for our loved ones and it’s so important that we do.  I’m very lucky to have such an amazing family. I have a newfound respect for my sister who found an amazing depth of courage in the face of terrible circumstances.  It made me realise that at times, I’ve misjudged her character unfairly, even held myself superior due to being the older one.  I now see this as being entirely false and that my judgement has been shallow and unfair at times.  I’ll never make that mistake again!
  • Reflection & Acceptance. In this time of reflection my focus is now on acceptance of what has happened and what is to come.  Non-judgement of those people whose life circumstances I know very little about.  Putting petty grievances into perspective as life really can be short.

Thanks so much for reading and thank you most of all to my little niece Aydah – meaning “Gift” – wise beyond her years for gifting me with such profound life lessons.

Charley Hickey