In Mexico they celebrate the 12 days of Christmas by honoring the Virgin Guadalupe, the virgin Mary, by making a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Some walk many miles to honor her, they walk in families, even the ill walk with cars following carrying a wheelchair if needed, they walk in tribes and of course they walk with businesses they work for. There are floats honoring the Virgin Guadalupe some with children dressed to honor her, they bring gifts to place at her alter to honor her, the mother of Christ. I was raised both Catholic and Lutheran but don’t consider myself a religious person, I’m spiritual, I believe in karma (as in the energy you put out in the world is the energy you get back), I believe there is something out there but I’ve never been “religious”. That night I saw true religion, true faith and I found myself becoming a part of it, not the spectator I intended on being. I found myself getting lost, lost in the smells, the songs and the beautiful traditional Indian dances all to honor the reason we have Christmas. As Americans we proclaim there has been a war on Christmas and here I am for the first time in my 48 years seeing what Christmas is truly about but that is not the point of this post, no this is about my awakening.
As each tribe stopped to beat their drum, dance and chant in honor of this pilgrimage wearing beautiful headdresses I found myself becoming to something beautiful. There are no words that can truly express how exquisite this celebration is. Families walked holding candles, babies and baskets of gifts for Guadalupe singing songs in Spanish, I didn’t understand the words, but I did understand the emotion. With every passing tribe whether it was an Indian tribe or a family I became more engrossed, I began to feel a kinship with this moment, these people. Afterwards I walked to the square where they offered traditional drinks and foods to honor the 12 days of Christmas, the smells were amazing. I watched children dancing and running around with pure joy, kids that won’t wake up on Christmas morning with a tree overflowing with gifts because that is not what Christmas is about for them. I remembered when I had no money after my divorce and couldn’t afford Christmas decorations so Eiish and I made them with dough, we baked them and painted them, we strung popcorn and cranberries as garland and a friend bought us a tree and some lights. To this day she says that was the best Christmas she ever had, when we had nothing but each other, like these families making this pilgrimage.
I walked home and tears streamed down my face, not tears of sadness but an unburdening, the 40 decades of pain leaving my body with every step, every tear. Things I thought I was over but probably just found a way to live with it rather than being healed. The men that raped me starting at a young age, the father that walked away from me, the man that beat me, the boyfriend that died, the death of Kyle and this fucking disease that stole so much from me and it was all leaving. I could feel myself getting lighter, the stress I had carried in my body was loosening and the hate was leaving. I forgive all of you, I won’t mention names because I don’t want to this to be about them, but I forgive you. Oh my God to say that, to put it to paper is something I never thought I could ever do but it feels good, I feel whole again. It was as if I were living in a cocoon and as I walked, as those tears streamed down my face, I became a butterfly. That night I slept, no nightmares, nightmares I’ve lived with for so long they were just a part of me. I forgave them, I emerged from my cocoon and now I am the beautiful butterfly I was meant to be, it just took 40 years to get here but I’m finally the woman my grandfather always saw.
In honor of George Hickey, the man that always believed in me no matter