By SEAN DIETRICH
Hi. This is your late loved one speaking. I don’t have long, so listen up because I have a lot I want to tell you.
First off, I get it.
Ever since I left this world you have missed me, and I know you’re bracing for the holidays without me. No matter what anyone says, this year’s festivities are going to be really tough.
In fact, let’s be honest, this festive season will probably suck pond water. But then, Thanksgiving and Christmas are tough holidays for a lot of people. You’re not alone.
See, the misconception about the holidays is that they are one big party. That’s what every song on the radio claims. Each television commercial you see shows happy families clad in gaudy Old Navy sweaters, carving up poultry, smiling their perfect Hollywood teeth at the camera. But that’s not exactly reality.
In reality, 58% of Americans admit to feeling severely depressed and anxious during November and December. In reality, many folks will cry throughout the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Well, guess what? Nobody is crying up here in heaven. This place is unreal. There is, literally, too much beauty to take in. Way too much.
For starters — get this — time doesn’t even exist anymore. Which I’m still getting used to.
Right now, for all I know, the calendar year down on Earth could be 1728, 4045, 1991 or 12 BC. It really wouldn’t matter up here. This is a realm where there is no ticking clock, no schedule. Up here, there is only this present moment. This. Here. Now. That’s all there has ever been. And there is real comfort in this.
I know this all seems hard to grasp, but if you were here you’d get it.
Also, for the first time, I’m pain-free. I feel like a teenager again in my body. You probably don’t realize how long I’ve lived with pain because I never talked about it. I kept my problems to myself because I was your loved one, and you needed me to be brave.
But pain is a devious thing. It creeps up on even the strongest person, little by little, bit by bit. Until pretty soon, pain becomes a central feature of life.
Sometimes my pain would get so bad, it was all I thought about. No, I’m not saying that my life was miserable — far from it. I loved being on earth. It’s just that simply waking up each morning was getting exhausting.
But, you know what? Not anymore. In this new place, I am wholly and thoroughly happy.
But enough about me. I don’t have room to describe all the terrific things I’m experiencing, and you don’t need to hear them. Right now, you’re grieving, and what you need is a hug.
Which is why I’m writing to you. This is my hug to you. Because you’ve lost sight of me. And in fact, you’ve lost sight of several important things lately.
Death has a way of blinding us. It reorganizes the way you think, it changes you. You will never be the same after you lose someone. It messes with your inner physiology. It reorganizes your neurons.
But then, there’s one teensy little thing you’re forgetting:
I’m still around.
Yes, you read that correctly. I’m right here with you. No, you can’t see me. No, you can’t reach out and hold me. But did you know that one of the things I’m allowed to do as a heavenly being is hang out with you?
It’s true. I’m never far away. I’m in the room with you now, along with a big cloud of ancestors, saints and witnesses. I’m shooting the breeze alongside you, watching you live your life, watching you raise your kids, watching your private moments of sorrow.
Here, in this new realm, I am in the perfect position to help you learn things. Which is what I vow to spend the rest of your earthly life doing, teaching you little lessons, lending you a hand when you least expect it and desperately trying to make you smile. Actually, I’ve already been doing this stuff, you just don’t realize it.
What, you don’t believe me?
Well, wake up, pal. You know that tingle you get in your spine whenever you think of me? That’s me.
You know how, just yesterday, you had a beautiful memory when you were driving and it made you cry so hard that it actually felt good and you began to laugh through tears? Also me.
You know how sometimes when you’re all alone, preoccupied with something else, suddenly you get this faint feeling that someone is standing in the room with you? Hello? Me.
You’re not alone on this earth. You never were. You never will be. So during this holiday season, when cheerful families are getting together and making merry, and taking shots of eggnog, I’m going to be clinging to your shoulder, helping you muddle through somehow.
I’ll be making your spinal column tingle a lot, and I’ll be sending plenty of signs. Each of these signs — every single one — is code for “I love you.” So start paying attention to these hints.
Because this was one.