Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Bells Chime

The Bells Chime
L.J. Holmes

Family tradition, it was all I had left of the one who nurtured me when I so desperately needed nurturing. Through the years, I passed those traditions down to my own beloved child.

December arrived this year with a spectacular blizzard. As a child I used to sit with my nose pressed against the picture window, watching with awe the swirling elegance and grace of the snow flakes making their way to join the sparkling blanket their brethren already made.

Now, in my twilight years, I content myself with watching the new flakes swirl wearing a shawl and a blanket to keep out the bite from the cracks I am too old to caulk any more, but delighted with this proof that Christmas is just around the corner.

Yes, cold, I feel it more these days. I guess what they said when I was young is true...the older you get the more your body's immunity to life's harsher realities fades into distant memory.

Earlier today, I managed to creak my way into the attic. Christmas is coming, and nothing, not even bones riddled with arthritis could keep me from following through on the traditions I still cling to.

Rumaging through boxes I'd forgotten to label, had been enlightening. Snippets from my life long ago, and some from a yesterday mere heartbeats away reminded me of so much.

My tired eyes filled with soft tears when I opened the box that held the Christening Gown my baby girl wore less than one month after her birth.

Touching the lace and velvet I'd hand made from the gown I'd married in, with my tired, wrinkled hand, made me travel back in time, to the young mother, beaming down at the baby girl nestled so securely in my loving embrace. I loved being a mom.

And the sound of bell chimes filled the attic. I smiled...both a sad smile and a smile of quiet peace.

I miss her. Especially now with Christmas coming. Parents are not supposed to outlive their children, but a drunk, a selfish drunk, chose to drive after a liquid lunch...

I remember the sound of the car's brakes squealing as it shot over the embankment onto our property. I made it to that same picture window I watched the snowflakes fall from just in time to see my little girl roll beneath the jeep truck the drunk operated, and could still hear my screams as I shot from my house...too late...too late...too late.

They tell me I was a zombie in the days, weeks and yes, months that followed. I think I died that day, but my body was too stupid to realize it....until that first Christmas Eve.

Certain I imagined them, I ignored the bell chimes at first, but they refused to be ignored. Everywhere I went I heard them...but no one else did. Grief can make you do and think crazy things. I dismissed them at first, but the chimes surrounded me the closer Christmas came.

Turning my rheumy eyes from the snow storm I gazed at the tree, twinkling across the room...the only illumination actually in the house other than the crackling and popping in the fireplace.

My daughter loved the magic of Christmas, but I wanted nothing to do with it after...well...after...

Until the chimes.

The night before Christmas, that first year, I steadfastly refused to celebrate the season. All I wanted was to curl up and follow my beloved child.

The fireplace crackled that night too, but my heart was filled with dark pain. And then the bells chimed again, the ones that had been following me everywhere for weeks.

I wanted to scream at them and tell them to shut up. I even opened my mouth to spew my fury, when a golden bell drifted down before me; it's ring the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard. Still I did not want to find anything beautiful. My life was child gone.

The bell hovered in the air between me and the fire, and began playing my child's favorite Christmas hymn. Golden motes of sparkling essence shot out from the bell with each note, and as I watched those motes coalesced into an angel-girl.

Her radiance reached into my broken heart and filled it with love, unconditional. All around me bells joined in, a choir of angels. Like a miracle, my daughter, my angel-girl rose to the top of the tree and became my Christmas Angel while the Choir bells chimed most beautifully. The room, lit only by the fireplace, grew brighter with the sparkling glow from halos and wings filling my heart until it had no darkness left within it.

Into my heart and my mind, my Angel-Girl spoke, giving me comfort and assuring me she had not left me, even though I could not always see her. She promised every Christmas Eve, the bells will chime and my Angel-Girl will come and share our tradition once more.

The snow outside swirled, and the sounds of bells chiming grew louder. The Christmas tree blazed with celestial beauty when one gold bell sent off motes that became my Christmas Angel, atop my tree...My Angel-Girl, come once more to share with me our love of Christmas, each other, and a tradition not even death could destroy.
To all I wish you all the miracles of the Holidays and may you know the wonder of your


lionmother said...

Lin, you have such a gift to write words that cut through my heart! I have tears in my eyes from this beautiful little story. There was only one part where I got a little confused. I thought her daughter had become the Christmas Angel on the tree and then the bell sent off motes to become the Christmas Angel. Otherwise you had my heart with this one!!

Lin said...

The Chritmas Bell Chimes because it is her daughter who then changes into the angel before her eyes. All the other bells are the choir of other angels.

Glenn Kleier said...

Wishing you and Kat a safe, easy move and a great new life ahead.
Much love,