This is my Mums constellation. It's called the Jewel Box.
We nominated this 'her' constellation as she always had a fascination with the heavens and the mythology of the stars. On clear evenings, I love sitting on our back deck, searching the night sky for her. The stars wink at me, and I feel her hands on my shoulders.
This will be our tenth Christmas without her.
Some of you may be celebrating your first, fifteenth or fiftieth Christmas without someone dear to you.
Significant days like Christmas, birthdays, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and other celebrations take on a new poignancy when someone you love is missing, absent or has passed away.
It's hard not to immerse oneself in the pain of loss and grief. I remember someone telling me the pain lessens, and the weight of the grief becomes easier.
I didn't believe them.
I moaned, I wailed, I rocked back and forth, hugging myself as Mum had always hugged me when things went wrong. I did that for a very long while.
Then one morning, just before I opened my eyes from slumber, I heard my Mums voice say 'C'mon Darling, chop-chop, there's a new day out there. Aren't you going to put on some lippy?'.
I wasn't surprised. This was something she'd said to me, when she was here. Why wouldn't she say it to me now? It was the most natural thing in the world.
From time to time,when I am having an internal struggle with something, I'll hear her voice in my ear just before I wake, just as I did then. Always full of gentle advice. And then I'll feel a flutter, brushing my hand or my foot or my brow, like a moth or a firefly.
I know then, that she is with me, guiding me and smiling proudly when I do well.
From time to time, I'll see or hear something that I know is a message from her. A pod of Dolphins breaking the surface of the water at our favourite seaside getaway (she always joked she'd come back as a Dolphin), a butterfly coming to a prolonged rest on my hand, a whisper through the branches of the tree we planted in honour of her sixtieth birthday, jingling the wind chime that once adorned her back verandah.
I don't know what you believe, but I think the souls of loved ones can be carried between this life and the next. I believe that when you really need to hear that persons voice, they will speak to you. If not in your waking life, then perhaps while you sleep.
I have vivid and lengthy conversations with my Mum, in dreams that are so real, that I am genuinely surprised to wake from them. In these dreams I know that Mum has passed on, but accept that she is there to tell me something. Inevitably she imparts some words of wisdom, and then I'm awake.
I almost certainly find that I am then able to resolve some thus far unresolveable issue or conflict in my life.
Often we fly together, dipping and lifting again. She believed in Astral travel too, so who's to say we're not doing exactly that...
Trust in yourself and in the deep love you shared or still share, with your absent loved one.
Know that if nothing else, they live on in our hearts and minds and are always with us.
The bonds of love cannot be broken. Not by death or disappearance or absence of any kind. They stretch like a silken web and enfold us when we need it most.
Be still. Be very, very quiet. Breathe.
Your loved one is near.
Can you feel them?
Is that their whisper on the breeze, their palm in yours as you drift off to sleep, their favourite bloom inexplicably more beautiful this season telling you they are at peace and with you always?
I choose to believe so.
Perhaps you do too.
Be at peace this Festive Season.