Kickboxing the Christmas tree. Ya… that’s what I contemplated doing last year. I was mad as all get out that my son wasn’t here. He should have been. I felt shattered and angry. I felt like a freaking hot mess that had been that way for a year and a half and I wanted to feel better. I was pregnant and due any time… hopeful, yet holding my breath until I heard his first cry. I didn’t know if I’d get to say hello or have to say goodbye again. I was scared. I wasn’t sure how it was going to be trying to raise a little boy after saying an all too soon goodbye to my last. Last year was rough.
Year before that, I wanted to close my eyes on thanksgiving eve and wake up in January. Even thinking on the holidays was too much. Thinking about a little boy born to Mary… and knowing how her heart would break when she had to say goodbye to her son- I could relate all too well. It hurt too bad. The holidays were too much. And the song “Silent Night”( always a favorite of mine) became eerily awful to hear over the radio waves. Once you’ve seen a child “sleep in heavenly peace”… you never forget it. And while it is a treasured and precious moment to see that level of peace amidst his tiny still face… it is something I wish I never did see, because then my son would be alive.
This year is different again. My little “rainbow” one is here and nearly one. It would have been Philip’s third Christmas, and I think about all the things he would’ve loved if only he were here. Train rides, magical lights, cookies with frosting and sugar all over his face. I watch my two year old niece run and play and think about all the moment we have missed and will always miss. I treasure the moments in my littlest one that I do get to experience- for those moments are the true treasures that only a heart can capture. I don’t want to kick box the tree this year and I don’t want to close my eyes and skip it all… I can be excited in moments and appreciate the joy in my children’s eyes as the holiday season ensues. I can sing Christmas carols and celebrate our Savior… but my heart aches and breaks – just as it has in the past. I miss my little boy. At a time when people get family pictures in front of their for tree, I am reminded that any family picture will never hold all of us. I miss my son and I go to a cemetery to visit him and there lies a cold stone marking his place in this world. His life- so short, yet so impactful. But I miss those hugs that would have been. I can find joy in the little things but it doesn’t mean I’m not reminded of the little ones who aren’t here. My heart aches so deeply but I am learning to find joy in moments, to feel it and let it hurt- and know that that feeling is okay.
I suppose there will be small differences every year as my grief grows and changes. “It’s a process, not a destination” someone once said. Sometimes it feels like a destination because you’re not really sure where to go or how to get there, and so you sit in a place of grief for a time- and you hurt deeply and wrestle incessantly, and pray to God you get through this wave…
and eventually a bit of light pokes through.
The dark days don’t come as often, but a gray cloud covering often hovers over the day to day joys. Waves come when I walk with someone else through a loss and my heart breaks for them and breaks again for my son. The questions arise again. The hurt and pain become fresh, and a seemingly “healed” wound opens up and fresh blood spills out. It scabs over in time, but sometimes just hurts on a deeper level- one the outside world cannot see.
There are many days I wish I didn’t know this side I refer to as the “after”. But I trust that my Jesus let me learn to live in the ‘after’ for a reason. Perhaps, “for such a time as this”. Perhaps He is using this to teach me to see good even when it hurts. To learn that joy is a choice- A daily, oftentimes painful, choice. To learn to have abundant grace with others as well as myself- as He does with me. Perhaps it is to connect in a way with another mama that would otherwise be missed.
Christmas is just a little bit different this year. And it always will be. There will be moments I still want to kickbox the Christmas tree, shatter some ornaments or hide from it all… but i am learning to live through the heartbreak of the holidays- even when it hurts the most. Because He wants me to. Because my son would want to see me live when he couldn’t. And one day in eternal joy and glory, I’ll once again hold him in my arms and whisper “Merry Christmas Philip” and oh what a day that will be.