Celebrating the holidays

Mason died right before Christmas. In a space of less than three weeks, we were to celebrate Christmas (our first grandchild’s first Christmas) and what would have been Mason’s 35th birthday.

We had no time to prepare our hearts. I wrote to my son:

Christmas in a few days and then your birthday.  It’s Rowan’s first Christmas and our first Christmas without you.  Chopra says that life is like a stream with happiness and sadness on either side and that you will touch both sides during your lifetime.  The goal is to not become overly attached to either side. If only that was possible.  How can I not be filled with happiness to see my grandchild on his first Christmas?  And how can I not be over-filled with sadness to be celebrating that Christmas with one of my own children gone? And how can both be happening at the same time?

I find my mind and heart demanding that I be present in both happiness and sadness now and know I must somehow build a bridge across this stream that will allow me easy access to both sides so I can walk between them as gracefully and gratefully as possible.  I cannot ignore that you are gone, and it is my greatest sadness, and I will not ignore Rowan’s first Christmas, and it is one of my greatest joys.

I know there will come a time when it’s easier to concentrate on what I have in my life than what I have lost, and even now on a good day, I know I am blessed.  But if I could have just one more hour with you, one more conversation, one more chance to look into your face, one more opportunity to tell you how much I love you, one more time to gather my children around the table, all my children.

While you were in the hospital, I held on to a vision of our family, all of us, gathered around the table, celebrating a holiday; Thanksgiving, Christmas, your birthday, New Year’s, whatever holiday was next in line, however long it took.  And I knew I would look into each of your faces and feel so much love and gratitude that we were all there, together. I will do that this Christmas, look into the faces of those gathered around the table and then close my eyes and look into your face.  I will feel such love and gratitude, for those present and for those in presence.’

There’s not just one way to get through the holidays in that first year that’s right for everyone. You may be inclined to surround yourself with many friends and family members or you may be equally inclined to be alone. You will most likely experience many conflicting emotions. You may be blessed to feel the love that will always exist with your child. You may feel nothing at all and just sleepwalk through the day. In the end, it may just be something you have to endure as best you can. You will get through it. You know you can, after all, you survived the loss of your child.

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