I have been dreading you. But you are here. You’ve been here for a few days now and Andy and I are tentatively learning how to navigate your waters of frigid and harsh grief. We don’t want to be swimming in these waters. We never asked to be here. And yet, we are. And we are trying to figure out how to swim against your forceful current. I know it’s not entirely your fault, but I associate you with Christmas.
Never in a thousand years did we think we would find ourselves in these shoes; figuring out how to live through Christmas after the loss of our child. No one thinks this can happen to them. Until it does. I never thought I would be silently and passively protesting Christmas. It is hard to simply just exist when the season is one that is overwhelmingly full of joy and good cheer.
It’s hard to live this reality each day during this season. I don’t like to show my sadness or grief. I try to overcome it or at least figure out how to live with it each day. But I just can’t. How is this real? How is the one thing I love more than anything in this world simply gone? I still don’t know.
I’ve been asked what I want for Christmas. And silently in the back of my mind, I respond with, “My son.” But the one thing I want I simply just can’t have. Losing your child, or anyone important to you, really makes you realize what is truly important in this life. So when asked, I don’t have very many gift ideas to offer. The one idea I do offer and feel very strongly about is donating to a charity or giving back in remembrance of Jensen. The only thing I want (not just for Christmas, but every day) is for those who are truly in need to receive help.
One question that seems trivial, but is causing a great deal of stress for me, is how to send Christmas cards this year? Do we send cards at all? I’d like to. Although I don’t feel very cheerful, I want others to know we are thinking of them and are grateful for them.
If we do send cards, do we include a photo of our son on the card? Do we address his name on the inside of the card? Do we acknowledge him in any way? Will this make people feel uncomfortable? If we don’t acknowledge him in some way, will we find it painful?
I can very easily answer this last question – YES. His life was our whole 2016. And 2016 was his whole life. If we don’t acknowledge him, it feels like we are denying his existence or leaving him in the past. The fact is, he is never far away from us. He is always in our thoughts, our hearts and very much part of our day to day.
While I would very much rather send a Christmas card as a new mother who is proud to show off her living and breathing baby….I’m not allowed that opportunity. One thing is for certain, though – I am still a mother and I am still very proud of my son. He is just not here. So why should I not be able to show him off?
He changed who we are and continues to do so. A lot of the projects we are working on, we are doing in his name – to honor him. So while I don’t know if others will find it uncomfortable, I feel it important to include him. It is what is right for us. And as my brother pointed out to me, those who are receiving a card from us will be the ones who should be able to accept this and not judge us.
For the past few months I have told myself that I didn’t want anything to do with Christmas. We were not planning on decorating our house. Period. But last Saturday I somehow found the motivation. I pulled out our Christmas totes, and quickly put up decorations before I lost all motivation. I can’t explain where this energy came from. But I had to take advantage of it, because as soon as it comes, it goes.
What helps me is incorporating Jensen in the holiday. So I found a cardinal print to remind me of Jensen. You know what they say: “When angels are near, cardinals appear.”
I decorated our mantel, and put our stockings up. It didn’t escape me that Jensen’s stocking should be hung up on the mantel alongside ours.
Also new this year was the light projector for our house. We have never decorated our house with Christmas lights, but this was super easy and really pretty.
All in all, I am actually happy we decided to decorate. The simple act of finding the motivation to do this gives me hope.