Christmas dredges up a lot of different feelings for me and I have to say I am relieved. For a very long time, I have not felt much regarding Jolene; people ask how I am doing and the answer is fine. I am not lying. I am. I have had this discussion often with my family and others dealing with tragedy. It is an excellent tactic of the brain because we are not meant to spend our days in our pajama’s, eating ice cream from the carton and wallowing in our own tears and misery because that will not help anyone. So we just feel nothing but a lot of love for Jolene.
But as Christmas approaches, I am feeling it all. Frustration, anger, guilt and sadness.
Frustration with the fact that Jolene seems to be going backwards. That her voice sounds smaller every time I talk to her and her desire to fight her eating disorder doesn’t exist. It is so much money and so much time from my family, the government and friends and it sometimes seems for nothing.
Frustration with the well meaning people that touch my arm and tell me “She is going to be ok and completely healed, just wait.”
I am sometimes tempted to whirl on them and ask them what secret knowledge they have discovered that my family has neglected to unearth along the way. How they can flippantly promise such an unknowable thing? Jolene may never be healed and that is something we need to work through every day. It is like telling a family member of a level 4 cancer patient that “They will live, just wait and see!”
Anger that Jolene is needing to miss Christmas with our family.
Anger that the monster has grown stronger and she is trying to self harm so they cut her nails to the quick and put gloves on her, like an infant. So she will spend Christmas day sitting on a couch, little hands in gloves, eating food that she loathes to touch and without the tangible support of loved ones.
The other day my mother came up to me, put her head on my shoulder and said in a small voice, “Some times I wonder where God is.”
And I guess that is where we are all feeling as Christmas approaches. What we all felt when we heard that Jolene’s Christmas wish was to come home for Christmas, say good bye to us, and go back to Utah and allow the eating disorder to take her life.
Guilt because I am moving forward, living a wonderful and colourful life while my sister cannot do that. Guilt because I live for the moment where I can wake up to my life and Jolene lives so she can go to sleep and forget. Guilt that I have a beautiful man in my life that makes me feel like I can accomplish anything, that I just received three of my dream jobs in the last month teaching enriched high school english, writing for the Waterloo Region Food Roundtable and working at Alternatives Journal. Guilt that I can laugh till I cry with my mother, talk for hours with my sister Megan and discuss ideas about life and the world with my dad.
I am living and moving and I feel like I am leaving her behind.
So naturally, this conjures up a lot of sadness right now. You will not find me in my pajama’s, face planting in Ben and Jerry’s but you may find me crying in the car or at random inopportune moments.
Like on my run this morning when Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” came on my iPod because that is the song Jolene had chosen for her recovery song.
She chose it as her message to the Eating Disorder this summer when she came home. And that hasn’t changed, but she just let her heart get broken again.
Last week, we had family therapy session with her councillor and her and as a family we were supposed to say what our hopes and dreams were for her in the future to show that there are people who believe in her when she doesn’t believe in herself.
She responded “Well, I like everything you said, but I think I will just let you all down”.
So I began thinking that it was about time she had a jar of hearts that she can see every day. Full of dreams and hopes and memories and inspiration that are not just from our family, but our community and the world. So I am collecting them from you. I am taking the messages you said, placing them on a heart and sealing them in a jar with the lyrics to the song and sending it with a local family that is driving to Avalon Hills to see their daughter who is with Jolene there. This way, Jolene can get a message of hope, love and a little laughter for Christmas so maybe she won’t feel so alone, so hopeless and so sad.
So if you want to join in on this, please send your message to me in the comments below, my e-mail account or bring it into Home Hardware in Wellesley tomorrow. I will be accepting messages until 5 pm tomorrow. Thank you to everyone who has already sent some, you are encouraging our entire family with them.
If you are unable to send a message and want to help Jolene in some way, we are selling Eating Disorder Awareness Bracelets at Wellesley Home Hardware and Anna Mae’s Bakery for $2.00 with the message “Freedom” and “Courage”. If you are unable to make it to those locations, contact me and I will get your order to you.
Thank you for helping us believe in miracles.