A Christmas for All of Us

I used to think about what it would be like when I didn’t feel like I needed to write anymore. I used to love writing years ago, telling stories and sometimes making things up as I went were just another way to lighten the mood and make people laugh, and the story-telling nature of writing for Jonah came as a natural outlet. I’m not crafty, I’m not as musical as I once was, and there’s a pretty decent chance that the dog that won’t quit barking down the street can draw better than I can… so I wrote.

Lately I’ve been talking about it in those terms though – the need to write. There aren’t many resources for dads and going to meetings that are 100% populated by moms before I arrive don’t really bring about the kind of comfort that makes you want to share no matter the intent or inclusion they allow me. This became my most honest grief space – where I could digest the things that I have a harder time feeling comfortable saying to other people around me in the course of conversation. But it wasn’t an impulse and it was far from a desire to write. It was desperate. I needed to get a message out our send something to my boys, or just get enough out that I could function again. There were times that I couldn’t see the screen because of how emotional it was to get the words. I don’t know what would have happened had I not had that outlet, but I can tell you that it wouldn’t have had anywhere near the impact.

But the curiosity called – when would the time come that I didn’t feel the need to write as strongly as breathing? Would I be ready to step away and live a life that didn’t include sharing the messages of an Almost Father? What would change in my life that would allow me that freedom? Lastly, an most important – would the things I have said and done been enough? And that’s the kicker, because nothing will ever be enough to stop sharing Jonah’s spirit. There will never be something to take the dreams I had of our life with Luke and shape them into something that fits their space in my heart.

Thankfully, that’s not what any of this is about. I’m realizing that I don’t feel that desperation to write like I used to because I’ve finally learned to trust that I won’t forget them – I remember exactly what Jonah looked like. I can see his delivery, the sunrise the morning after he was born, and I have him around me in one form or another every day. Losing both of my children taught me lessons of grace and resilience that have changed my life, and give me a place to compare peaks and valleys with as my days go on. We’ve been to hell – twice – and made it back to share the spirit they would have carried themselves. I’m still writing because I want to share their story, not because I have that deep-seeded yearning to – most of the time. (And really, who better is there to tell their story than the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends who all dreamed-dreams along with us?)

And that’s the nugget in all of this that has been so hard to find – that’s this year’s gift that I could never have had the perspective to ask for. A time comes where you form a relationship with them that is so strong that no one else could understand. The days where you feel absolutely crushed but see a rainbow on the drive home. Where you are fighting through the most emotional of days and see the sun shining through dark clouds as far as you can see, illuminating a field in the distance that looks like an oil painting. Or – as happened to me last week – you go swimming to help the recovery of a back injury and find a whale-tail sticking out of the kids pool, greeting you on the way out of the locker room. I’ve walked past that darn whale so many times and looked right past it to the people around or the pool I’m headed to, but it hit me that at this time in my life – where I’m having trouble walking upright, playing with my nephew, and helping around the house because of an injury – Jonah pops up right in front of me three days a week. I’m sure there are ways to explain how these things came to line up, but you can’t explain the emotional impact they have on my heart.

As you go through this Christmas Day looking at stockings that won’t get used, at children opening gifts knowing there are always some missing, or holding ornaments in your hands instead of children in your arms, don’t looked past the things they are putting right in front of you. They show up in our lives in so many different ways to carry us through and we spend so much time doing the most ridiculous adult things that we don’t stop and see them. In all of the heart ache we both have this Christmas without our children, there is a fullness in knowing that they find me just as often as I look for them.

May the grace of the season find you and keep you. From all of the pieces of my broken heart being held together by four little hands, I hope your whales find you too.

Merry Christmas, from our entire family to yours #TeamJonah


Photo credit: BJ McCartney

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