Sunday, December 4, 2011
"I just can't help but think that you look up at your mantle and think, 'There should be one more stocking up there...'"
That is what she said to me.
It was my first week back to work after delivering the boys. I had decided to come back to teach one week before the holidays to 'ease' my way back to the 'normalcy' of life... My life teaching children... The truth was I no longer knew normalcy~ the normalcy I had known had changed~ shifted~ disappeared.
The comment was rude. It caught me off guard and it was said as I was surrounded by second graders getting ready to start a school day. To say that it made it impossible to focus on my job would have been an understatement and yet somehow I managed. I went through the motions. I survived. Somehow we all survive.
"Laura, you are so strong."
How many times I have heard that... but the truth is~ what choice did I have? In the end I woke up each day, I breathed out and I breathed in and that world that I had thought had stopped kept spinning while my life as I had known it had stopped.
But it was the 'holidays'
And there was one less stocking upon my mantle.
What she said hurt and at the same time it validated me too. She knew that I was hurting and the acknowledgement (albeit strange) was also a comfort. I did look at my mantle and think it looked amiss. I had dreamed for 39 weeks that Christmas would contain four stockings and yet there were three~ I had dreamed of seeing little babes dressed in matching jammies... but when I opened my eyes, I didn't. And that hurt.
It doesn't matter if you lost your baby on January 1st, or December 26th, that first Christmas without your baby cuts and it feels as if it was yesterday~ as if yesterday you held him in your arms, closed your eyes and kissed him goodbye~ or perhaps only kissed that dream~ that dream of that 'first Christmas'~ goodbye.
It doesn't matter if your baby lived years, months in your womb or was just a spark. It hurts. Christmas is a child's holiday... it doesn't matter it's roots or the 'reason for the season', it is the time where children's eyes are wide, and the whole world seems to slow and have a magical glow about it... and when it doesn't... it hurts.
The truth was he had no stocking, but to me he was all I could think about. The elephant in the room that nobody talked about. I needed something. But what? I didn't know. My husband and I were out shopping, determined to get up, breathe, live. We found an angel. It sparkled and was beautiful and reminded me of my sweet one who was amongst the real angels.
It's been 9 Christmases.
And still I look at that mantle and wonder....
And that angel and sigh...
Andrew has more ornaments than our living children and they came from you. My friends. People who saw an ornament with his name, and angel, a letter (A), a star. Friends who had no words but wanted to do something. And as my living children placed them upon the tree I remembered where I was when I opened those ornaments, what it meant to me as I saw them and how each one seemed to heal my broken heart~ pick up one piece and try to glue its jagged pieces back together.
This year as my children hung them on the tree they said, "This one is for Andrew... And this one is for my sister..." and I sat and thought how lovely that they remember... how sad that they have to know.
And so I pause and think and remember how hard that first Christmas was~ how I never dreamt I would ever survive it... and here I am 9 Christmases later. The world has kept spinning and still his angel is there, watching over it all... and somehow I did. We did it.
Survived it without him.
Thank you Andrew.
Thank you E.
Thank you to all who remembered and remember still...
Thinking of your angels this holiday season and thinking of YOU.
I know others are too~ I just pray they let you know
In their own way.
And though it will never heal your broken heart, I hope you can see it for what it is, a medicine. A caring. A community. An attempt.
To show you love.
But you're not alone.
You never have been...
You never will be...