As I sat in church on Christmas eve (morning), singing back to back carol’s and hymns, my heart began to ache and I felt tears well up into my eyes! I had to stop, as I knew that if I sung one more word about Angels and such, that I would quite possibly lose it, and I wasn’t ready to do that!
I said in my December family update that I had been grateful for the busyness of the season and our involvement with “Light The World” because it had kept me distracted from my own pains and grief that naturally come from having one less child with us at Christmas time! I felt like this year I was very much on autopilot with our stuff, and kept busy with everything I had filled my days with, that I rarely let myself think of the “What if’s” and “Should be’s”, and really feel anything about the fact we had another Christmas with out her!
All of those things that dull the sparkle of Christmas because of the death of one of our kids, were pushed into the back of my mind and I was determined that this year would be different. But it wasn’t really, because then when my guard was down on Christmas eve, and in a moment when everything was bought and wrapped, and projects complete, my heart had time to feel it, and my mind time to reflect on what another Christmas without her (our little girl) really meant.
And it was hard. Really hard. All too much you could say!
I guess at the time it was a good strategy to keep preoccupied and caught up in giving to others. And I loved it. Every moment… I was all for giving of myself to others and the Joy that I knew would come from giving, and I know it did a lot of good. I felt so joyful, and it was lovely!
But then there were moments that my temper became frayed and things felt a bit too much. Days when I felt fragile and done in, and days I had to take a deep breath and really prepare myself to get through it! There were moments when my mind reflected on Poppy and that it was another Christmas with out her, and then moments when I felt annoyed at myself and Nathan that we hadn’t made time sooner to go decorate her grave, and I realised (whether consciously or not, that I was merely doing a good job of pasting over the cracks and “getting on with it”!
This year we opted for some gold butterflies on her grave. I spent ages in the Christmas section of “The Range” that day, trying to find the perfect decoration, but all I felt was irritation that what I was buying for my third child this Christmas was some naff decoration to put in a cemetery to be weather worn! I felt anxiety that it had to be right, and nothing quite was!
And so Nathan’s mum bought me 2 hooks and we settled on some sparkly gold butterflies…. because technically they weren’t on the grave at all but gave a feeling of life above it! I tried to make an arrangement, but that too didn’t feel good enough, and It was in these moments that I realised that another Christmas without her was just as hard as the others. Just as unfair and sad!
We had hung her decorations on the tree, bought some little Angel wings to add to them, and decorated her grave, and with that it was all we could do. No Christmas stories snuggled in bed, no madness with her siblings, and no gifts with her name on… all small and little private moments in a desperation to include her in our Christmas, that just felt sad and somewhat unfair! We had gone through the motions and as I stood to leave her graveside I again wondered how the heck did we become the ones with a baby in there and not here!
When you have lost a child, Christmas leaves you feeling divided. In one moment you want to be excited, and we very much were, but then in others you feel incredibly sad and lost again, and it feels unfair they are not here making memories with you. You wonder as you watch your other kids in excitement – “What would Poppy have loved?”. And it is moments and thoughts like that, and moments where we sing of Angels and little babies on silent nights, that make me so annoyed. Annoyed that I don’t know her in that way, and annoyed my baby was born dead…and I never had any of what I wanted with my sweet little baby! I missed opportunities over and over again to celebrate Christmas, and see her enjoying the lights and festivities of the season! I missed her 1st, 2nd and now 3rd visit to see Santa, and missed knowing what she would most wish for under the tree on Christmas morning!
And yet even with all of that in my soul, we just carry on as normal as we can, because that’s all we know how to do. And also because I know that if I didn’t, I think I would break some days!
Christmas affected me quite a bit more than I thought it would when I was in the highs of the season (for there were still many). And then it also caught me again as we welcomed in a new year. It was that turning point (and it always is)… the moment where the memories you made, the things you bought to remember, or the feelings you felt, are all now gone and wrapped up in another year. Any progress you made is almost irrelevant because you move forward like everyone else and you find that you are another year away from them, and that in itself is a hard pill to swallow!
Yes another year closer to seeing them again, but another year away from when you last held them, saw them, and had them here. And I have always found New Years rather tough for that feeling!
With a new year comes new opportunities, and fresh starts but it also brings anxieties and fears where great loss is. The dread of another 12 months of anniversaries to navigate. Another year of family things without them here. Another year with new triggers and reminders, and more time passing and life moving on from when you last saw them.
And this year – A 4th birthday and talks of school next year that are all gone too.
On Christmas day I shed some tears in frustration that you were not here again. I gazed out of the window and wished with all my heart I could have felt you closer. I shared some moments of reflection with other family members about your brief life and how some days I have to remind myself because it feels like a bad dream and I am scared to forget. But mostly it was that all familiar feeling of a missing piece of our family when paper was ripped from gifts, and when the kids table was set. The familiar gap only we notice when we posed for family pictures.
Yes we survived and even celebrated with great joy another Christmas without you, and in some ways it was easier with the eagerness of your siblings. But in many other ways it was just as hard and heart wrenching to not see your smile, hear your voice, see your excitement, and have you here with us!