I haven’t written a post for awhile. At first it was because I had been busy and exhausted from working the American Music Awards. Then when I had another post written in my head, but I was too tired from just getting back from getting married in Maui. Then I had some more things I wanted to share but I was busy running around buying and cooking food because it was Thanksgiving.
Then the most heavy news of my life punched me in the stomach the Saturday after Thanksgiving. My amazing husband brought his mother home with him from Las Vegas three days early to tell me that my father had unexpectedly passed away earlier that day. Instead of calling me on the phone to tell me, and have me be alone to comprehend the news with our three year old, my mother called him to tell me, and he came all the way home be with me when I heard the news. That is one of the biggest blessings I could have ever been granted.
My siblings, mother, some friends and family and I went to his small, rural hometown in Pennsylvania to lay him to rest. Hearing the holiday music everywhere and seeing the twinkling decorations was so surreal. Being there, in the very cold weather, hearing and seeing all these festive sights and sounds, while preparing to say our final goodbyes to our father was the most surreal experience imaginable for me.
While on that side of the country, I decided I wanted to go to my favorite city to visit and make some new holiday memories with my new, small family of three. We drove from Pennsylvania to New York City and arrived to the city through the Lincoln Tunnel, just like my hero “Buddy the Elf.”
Only there one full day and a few hours of daylight after we drove in, with one of my wonderful friends who lives there, I took our three year old to Central Park. Together we built a tiny snowman and the little one made snow angels with the help of my friend. It was a beautiful sight, a snow covered Central Park. In all my treasured times in New York, I had never seen the snow in Central Park. We walked to the Plaza for a warm drink only to find their bar was closed. The little one’s feet had gotten wet during our excursion in the slushy snow in the Park. I striped her of her damp stockings and socks and put on an extra pair of gloves on her feet that I had in my bag. What a story to remind her of as she grows older! We rode back to our hotel in a cab. She fell asleep and I held her tight as we drove by every sight I had wanted to see with my own eyes this year; the incredible decorations on 5th Avenue including the huge beautiful shining star at 5th Avenue & 58th Street and the breathtaking tree at Rockefeller Center.
It was incredible being in a warm cab, with our little girl on my lap, seeing the tremendous holiday sights of a city I adore. I was so thrilled, but so serene; I was there because we had just said goodbye to my dad.
The next day my husband and I took our little lady to Macy’s to meet Santa bright and early. We got out of the cab across from the entrance to Macy’s and as my husband carried her towards the crosswalk, I saw the gorgeous sparkling “Believe” sign on Macy’s exterior wall and grabbed my camera to get a shot of everything my life had built up to at that point. I believed I would fall in love with a good man, and that I would one day be a mother. It had come true because I believed it would. What a wonderful memory that image will be to me for forever.
It’s gotten a bit easier to swallow, realizing I can never again hug my dad or hear his voice; we’ve been so busy with everything since the news. Once back home in LA, I had to get right back to work and also prepare our home for Christmas. We went to buy a tree at a lot near us. When we walked into the makeshift forrest in the vacant parking lot, the loudspeakers were playing one of my dad’s favorite holiday songs, a John Denver song. I pulled my sunglasses off my head and back over my eyes and cried quietly. I didn’t want this memory of getting our first tree together to be also remembered with mommy crying…again. As I think about it more, I like to think it was my dad saying, “hi.” I used to love to go to the tree lot with him in Phoenix to buy our tree when I was little.
I’m sure tomorrow, Christmas Day, will be just as surreal as the rest of the month has been. I hope I remember times of him being funny on Christmas more than I feel the saddness of him not being on the other end of the phone when I call or on the receiving end of a plane ride when I visit.
My mother has a slightly elaborate manger scene she sets up near the tree during the holidays. My dad was always “Santa” Christmas morning, passing out gifts to his anxious family, one at a time so we could all see what the other is receiving. One year, he went to reach a gift for someone and bumped the manger. He quielty mumbled, “oh shit, I dropped Jesus.” I cracked up laughing. I think I was the only one who heard. He started laughing too and we shared with the rest of the family what just had happened. We all laughed and laughed. Now I’m crying again so I guess that didn’t do me much good. I guess now I should just brace myself for more of our little lady asking me, “are you crying again?!”
Merry Christmas everyone.