I can feel you. Fighting to keep some sense of normalcy in a Christmas like this, trying to hold your broken heart together.
I see you setting the table for the family meal thinking about how many more people should be there. Wrapping gifts and wishing you needed some to wrap for the smallest of them all. Squirming when crying babies are around – not out of annoyance or disdain, but because you’ll never hear that cry from the ones you lost. Moms looking quickly away from pregnant women but not out of jealousy but heartache; that was the last time you knew your baby was safe. Dads walking through the store avoiding toy and sports aisles because you can’t make plans to play Legos or prep for t-ball. Walking through the clothing aisle struggling to keep focus because you’re afraid of seeing something you would have wanted them to wear. I see you struggling to take one more step, and I want you to know something.
I’m struggling with you.
I hold my breath when someone asks if I have children, knowing what comes next. I feel my heart breaking when I open Jonah’s drawer and see a Baby’s 1st Christmas onesie on top. I fight to hold myself together because we didn’t end up needing a stocking with a whale on it. Every single day we wake up hoping it was just a dream, and every night we go to bed hoping to see their faces one more time. In my own journey I’m learning that this isn’t all there is. We grieve hard because we loved harder, and we carry them with us every single time we put one foot in front of the other. Coming through a season of thankfulness and generosity when you’re struggling to see daylight is the most conflicting thing I’ve ever done, and I know I’m not alone.
I want you to know I’m proud of you.
I’m proud that you get out of bed when you wanted to pull the covers over your head. I’m proud that you go out into the world and give a little more of yourself, no matter how little you feel there is that day. I’m proud that you know you will see reminders of your children that will hurt, but you do it anyway because that’s what we have left. All of those kicks and pushes, the ultrasound photos and heart beat recordings matter because they are real live evidence of a life you created. Those reminders are their gifts to us to recognize how special they were in the first place, loved above all else. Give yourself some grace this Christmas and accept the gift that they are giving us of perspective and depth. Appreciate the fact that your children made you a stronger person; one who feels a new depth to love in a way we maybe never would have if it weren’t for them.
After all of the times that I felt I was lost after saying goodbye to Luke and then to Jonah, I feel more grounded this holiday season because I’m thinking about them in every moment. I turn on our lights and sit in front of the tree, knowing they are looking at the very same things with me. We watch Christmas movies that we bought to watch with them, and I know they’d have loved every single minute. Remembering my children during these holidays is the biggest single gift I could receive, and they’re making their presence felt all around me. So sit down and take a breath, because if you’re anything like me you’re doing everything you can to keep moving. Look around at all of the things you’ve been able to do because they were loved, not just because they’re gone. Be proud of yourself because in the hardest time of your life you chose to take that next step when you could have shut it all out, and that’s where you’ll find them waiting for you. The single greatest gift any of us could receive this holiday season is a reminder that our children lived, that our loved ones had an impact, and that our hearts broke so that we could take count of all of the pieces we’ve given away with purpose.
Merry Christmas Mommy. Merry Christmas Daddy. Merry Christmas Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt and Uncle, brothers and sisters. You are loved