It’s November 20th and Thanksgiving is 3 days away. People are shuffling around trying to get all their last minute plans finalized and holiday food bought in order to avoid the last minute rush to the store come Wednesday. People are eagerly making their Christmas wish lists and starting their holiday shopping. Children can feel the joy and excitement in the air and all seems “merry and bright”.
However, I find myself wanting to avoid the store and all the people in it. As a result I have not a single thing bought for Thanksgiving. This time last year I had many of my children’s gifts bought. I had all the food I needed to make for Thanskgiving purchased a week ahead of time. I had plans made for what we were doing and if we would be visiting family or friends. Last year everything was merry and bright. I was so eager to welcome the holidays, spend time with family and friends, and celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas because I had so much to be thankful for. I had four beautiful children, a wonderful husband who adores me and treats me like a queen, loving and supportive friends, and was 20 weeks pregnant with our 5th child.
I remember cherishing the holiday spirit and being ever so grateful for the many blessings in my life. I often wondered how on earth I became so luckily to have the life I have. Everything was good. Everything was right.
But now…everything is just different. At least for me. The world is still spinning around and the holidays are still fastly approaching. Everyone around me is delighting in the holiday spirit and I find myself wanting to retreat to my corner and not deal with the world. I find myself wondering how on earth everyone can be so over-the-top happy and grateful for blessings in their life. How can such cheerfulness and joy exist when I’m struggling to feel any kind of gratefulness even though I know I have so many blessings I am truly grateful for. It’s so hard to explain to others that I am so aware of my many blessings in my life, but I have this overshadowing sorrow and pain I live with each day. Only I know of its powerful existence and it can drowned out even the greatest blessings in your life.
Does this mean I’m not grateful? No it doesn’t mean that. It simply means that right now my heart is broken and my soul is trying to reconcile the extreme emotions and feelings I experience each day. It’s hard to feel grateful for anything when you have lost a child, even when your blessings smack you in the face. It’s nearly impossible, especially in these very early stages of child loss, to experience happiness or joy without a dark cloud of grief lingering over your daily life. Constantly following your every move. It’s so extremely difficult to see other peoples joy and happiness and truly just be happy for them. Things that were once easy for me to do are now impossible tasks and take every ounce of my effort to do, experience or work through.
Going through the holiday season is proving to be tough. Much tougher than I ever thought. I want to see our children happy and experience their joy, but I know I will never see my sweet Turner’s happiness or joy on his face. I want to see my children open their presents and see their sheer excitement on Christmas morning, but I know I’ll never see Turners eyes light up with excitement trying to figure out how all those many present got under the tree over night. I know I’ll never see the excitement when he realizes Santa came and ate all the cookies and milk and left him a present. I know there will always be one stocking on our mantle that will never be fillled. It will never have any stocking stuffers. It will always be empty because no toys need to fill it since they won’t ever be played with by Turner. I know there will always be one little boy missing from our Christmas cards and pictures, and holiday meals. Always one child missing. Forever.
It breaks my heart even thinking about it. Turner would be turning 8 months old 2 days after Thanskgiving. He should be having his first Thanksgiving meal…eating the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing and having his first taste of homemade pumpkin pie and whipped cream. I should have 5 children around our Thanksgiving table, but instead one child will never be siting at our table.
I should be worrying about keeping Turner away from the Christmas tree and presents because he should be turning 9 months old on Christmas day and exploring his world. I should be worrying about keeping all the ornaments high enough from the bottom of the tree so he doesn’t get ahold of them.
Instead Christmas morning will be 9 months exactly since I saw my beautiful son for the first time. 9 months since I last saw his sweet face, kissed his sweet cheeks, felt his baby soft skin against mine, held his precious head in my hands, and smelled his newborn baby smell. 9 months since I was able to rock him, hold him, kiss him, and prayed he would just wake up. 9 months since this nightmare had begun. 9 months of learning how to live and function without a piece of my heart and soul. 9 months since I gave birth knowing my son had already passed away. 9 months since I had to do the hardest thing I’ve ever done, harder than giving birth to him or finding out he had passed away unexpectedly 16 days before his anticipated birth…I had to physically place him in a strangers arms and give him away knowing I’d never hold him again. Words can not ever describe the excruciting pain that moment was and how traumatic giving my child away was.
Holidays will forever be different for me now. And this year I would much rather curl up in a ball and not recognize or celebrate anything. If I had my choice I would be in my bed for the next 4-5 weeks choosing to sleep and let the pain come as it may. But I can’t do that. My kids deserve better and so does my husband. And Turner wouldn’t want me to do that either.
So instead I will choose who I will be around. I will choose who will be able to share in our families holiday cheer. I will choose what we will do to make the holidays a little easier when they seen near impossible in the moment. I will choose what we will do to honor and remember our son and include him in our holiday traditions. He is always a member of our family and he will always be included as he should be. I will choose to turn towards the true meaning of these upcoming holidays and focus on the meaning of why we celebrate. I will choose to try to be grateful, even if it may seem hard because frankly I’ve already experienced and am dealing with the hardest thing anyone can deal with during life…losing a child. I will choose to see my 4 living children’s joy and be happy. Truly happy that I am here with them each day and get to raise them and watch them grow. I will choose to just do what feels right and what feels best to get through this time as that is all I can really do. All I can do is what feels best each day to help my grieving and broken heart, especially during the holidays.