I don’t consider myself to be very emotional, but a few things got me this season.

Yesterday, I finally made the time to transfer all of my pics from my phone to the laptop and then onward to a backup server. The effort of this and time involved inspired our New Year Resolution to start downloading monthly! Seriously.

I spent so much time compartmentalizing things into different folders (“Sterling 2019,” “Sterling & Sports 2019,” “Jaelyn & friends 2019,” “Jada & name the holiday 2019″) that I almost missed the present moment when one of the kids asked me to play a game. Not a video game, but a sit-on-the-floor kind of board game. These moments are rare and usually only happen over Christmas break.

Anyway, I got to thinking about how often we compartmentalize our lives into neat little boxes. I’m guilty of doing that all the time. If we get together with friends, I try to make sure the couples will have things in common…can you imagine mixing our Democrat friends with our Republican friends (yes, we have a good mix of both! And get this, we even get along!)? Can you imagine putting this person who swears quite a bit (ok, it’s me) with this person who seems to be perfect? We have to keep that relationship at the school event or the church event or whatever the case might be.

The list goes on.

So I realized that I compartmentalize my feelings or stay busy to the point of not having to confront them, which is why writing certain scenes can be really tough as it opens the door just a little bit to what feelings of loss feel like. At least if I want to connect in a believable way with a reader.

So this Christmas, I received the most unexpected and special gift I’ve ever been given. And let me tell you, I was having a perfect glass of wine, had on the perfect red lipstick and Christmas outfit and was as composed as can be after attending Christmas service. So when I opened a mysterious card addressed to me from Santa (of course I’m on the good list), the sentimental words ripped open my neatly boxed and wrapped emotions of devastation, loss, gratitude, love.

My Uncle Woody, who was married to my second mom (my mom’s twin sister) had written me a note within a card and had wrapped the most precious gift of my Aunt Pam’s legacy necklace so that I could carry a piece of her with me from time to time.

I was instantly a mess. That hardly ever, NEVER happens to me. I’ve lived through some pretty rough moments, but I never show hurt. It was a gut reaction, like being slapped in the face. Tears came streaming down my face and all my emotions oozed out of their packaged boxes and swam around my stomach in a muddy mess. Having her fingerprint felt like having her here. A mixture of loneliness & fullness at once. But she felt close.

My mom’s twin sister has been part of every part of my life. Losing her felt like the loss of a mom as I saw her almost daily my entire life. It was a season of tremendous faith knowing she was in this amazing place where time stands still and knowing her, she’s probably still hugging everyone in line at Heaven’s gates. I feel her presence daily, but to have a tangible piece makes her feel like she’s always with me.

The second trigger that wreaked havoc on my emotions happened when reading “Ordinary Grace,” a FANTASTIC book that several people have recommended. This trigger opened the boxes of hope, faith and comfort in one little dialogue exchange between a Native American and a young man…

“As I walked away he called to me and when I turned back he said, They’re never far from us you know.

Who? I asked.

The dead. No more’n a breath. You let that last one go and you’re with them again....They’re in our hearts and on our minds and in the end all that separates us from them is a single breath, one final puff of air.”

I was fulfilled and grateful to the author (William Kent Krueger) for being willing to open that box in order to relate with me and so many others and set me at ease through his words. The way he writes the scenes of devastation (read it, you’ll know what I mean), it’s certain he’s lived through loss. Tragic and severe loss that cuts through your soul and leaves you feeling shattered as you search for broken pieces of what was your heart.

But because of this, I didn’t feel alone in loss. I felt companionship. There are so many people who relate with loss and if not yet, they will. We all will. That’s a promise. Having the courage to open these boxes from time to time, lets others in and our light and relatability out.

For the first time in weeks, I slept well last night.