Friday, May 6, 2011

Never the Same?

Another one for my newest friends, learning to live without their little ones...

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I was born the day after, so it's always been double fun. William and I fell in love in winter and were married in February, so I love the cold and everything about winter. I became a mother for the first time on Christmas eve 1998. All wonderful memories and contributed to my love of winter and Christmas.

Then... 2 years ago Ian died. It was 3 weeks before Thanksgiving, then a short few more weeks until Christmas. Everywhere I looked I was wounded by what otherwise would have been pleasant sights. "Baby's First Christmas" was emblazoned on everything from hats to bibs to stockings. It all reminded me that Ian never got Christmas - he missed so many "firsts". Then there were the Christmas cards that I couldn't bear to send without his name, not that I had the strength or clarity of mind to actually send cards anyway. Everywhere another stab: "JOY" - I had none. Celebrations of a baby's birth - mine was gone. Cold weather and my empty arms. Imagine the stab of pain that you feel when you hear something terrible has happened, and then you feel again when you remember it. You can distract yourself and ease that stab, that gut-wrenching. A grieving parent cannot.

We made it through that first Christmas, barely. William kept asking me for a Christmas list, the only problem was, there was only one thing on my Christmas List - I wanted Ian back. I had panic attacks every time I went to the store - it seemed like everyone had a baby or was pregnant, everywhere I went. So, I shopped online. The packages kept coming and before we knew it, we had 3 hours worth of gift opening on Christmas morning. You cannot shop your way out of grief. A poignant memory is when we finished decorating the tree and then completed it with our special ornaments just for Ian. The kids had long since grown bored of decorating, so William and I hung them in silence and cried. and cried. and cried.

Last Christmas we didn't really feel like decorating, but felt we should. We put up the tree and it was a bit less painful to finish it with Ian's ornaments. We were better about not spending a fortune and it didn't take us long to open the gifts. We had friends over for lunch - something we had never done before. We went to a Christmas Candlelight ceremony with other grieving families. We still didn't send cards - how would we sign them? It didn't seem right to leave him out, but it seemed unfair to the recipients to remind them of our loss. We left the decorations up until Easter - we just didn't have the energy to put them all away, and then when we did there were several things missed, so those weren't moved to the storage room until our Garage sale in September.

So, here we are at our 3rd Christmas without Ian. It seems strange to even type that since we never had a Christmas with him, but he is missing, nonetheless. I am blessed to have a new addition, a bundle of love and joy that has brought many a comfort to my heart. I still count... one, two, three... there should be four. I had hoped that this year would be better. That my love of Christmas would return. I'm sad to say that it hasn't. I cannot work up the energy to drag out the tree and the boxes of ornaments.

I recently rode with a man whose daughter was murdered 20 years ago. His words ring in my ears "Christmas has never been the same." After more conversation I found that it had been his favorite time of year too. Never the same? I hope that's not true. I hope that one day the joy of the season and the comfort of our Savior's birth will outweigh the pain of Ian's death.

Perhaps even "never the same" will be a positive thing. I sure hope so.

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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