This was our first major holiday without our son and dare I say we enjoyed it? How? Before I get to that, you have to know what the week before was like to have a full appreciation of the outcome.
Eight days prior to Thanksgiving, I assured my counselor I would not need a session before the holiday because I felt grounded. HA! Silly, silly me.
Five days prior, Kevin and I decorated our Christmas tree. This of course conjured some strong emotions. We hung Everett’s ornament which the sweet nurses at the hospital made following his delivery. It made me angry that this was the only thing we came home with. This ornament and a memory box. We hold these items priceless, but we’d rather be holding our son. Then snowballed a series of flashbacks from the hospital and our delivery to how Christmas was for us shortly after. Very tough to revisit!
Four days prior, a promo arrives in my inbox for holiday cards. Hmm? To order or not to order? This sounds small, but I was surprisingly repulsed at the thought of holiday cards. What I didn’t realize was that it was actually a pretty significant memory from last year that had me all in a frenzy. You see, the morning E passed away I started stuffing and stamping our holiday cards as a welcomed distraction. They were never sent, however, because I ended up rushing to the doctor’s office. Also, his name was on them. In a fit of shock and anger I demanded that they be thrown away (thank goodness my friend ignored this and actually held onto them for me). With all of this resurfacing, I decided to ignore the promo and resolve the whole card debacle later on. Yikes…
Three days prior, I sat at work attempting to focus but the emotions continued to pour out. As a Facebook memory popped up from last year, I recalled blissfully gallivanting around with my bump, beaming about our baby. I had finally begun to grasp what an amazing gift we had been given. I LOVED him so deeply and he had already blessed us in so many ways. Paralleling that with where we are now was harshly awakening. How could this be real? We were actually pregnant and our baby actually died. It has taken almost a year for my brain to accept that this all has really happened. Those memories, as Facebook so kindly pointed out, are real.
Two days prior, I still couldn’t stabilize as I faced the thought of leaving my home (my nest!) and my dog (my comfort!) to go celebrate our first big holiday without Everett. So I frantically scheduled an emergency session with my counselor.
Two hours before leaving town, I visited Everett’s tree and placed a new rock from Kevin and one from me. Then followed a visit to my counselor where I spent the hour crying over all of the aforementioned. I was certain that Thanksgiving Day and our trip would be extremely challenging. Regardless, I decided to find ways to feel close to Everett rather than to focus on his absence.
This takes us to Thanksgiving Day which was rather peaceful despite the week’s events. I stayed off social media to avoid “baby’s first” and family photo triggers. I lit Everett’s candle while we put up Christmas decorations. And I made sure I had my angel necklace on every day. I had done all of these things to create a strong sense of comfort and resolve any feelings of his absence. But it wasn’t my actions that ultimately made this holiday a good one…
At the end of our visit, my in-laws gifted us with a beautiful memory box to store Everett’s things in. They hand painted it together, matching the colors to our nursery, including a red “E” on the side and his initials at the top. While I had been going through a tumultuous week, little did I know they were crafting a very precious and timely gift. We were also surprised by a stranger’s post on Facebook who had come across the rocks we had placed at Everett’s tree. This post drew tons of likes and supportive comments from others touched by the memorial – encouragement we very much welcomed. We were also continuously greeted by texts from friends checking in. As if that weren’t enough, a good friend gave us a stamp of the letter “E” between two angel wings, specifically to use on this year’s holiday cards! [Side note: YAY Problem solved! This person had no idea about my card conflict either.] These sentiments were all pivotal to incorporating Everett into the holiday and helped us to enjoy it with him!
In reflection I realize we are beginning to live life again and are able to do so with Everett at the forefront. But we haven’t done that alone. Our friends, family and even even strangers have shown us that we can smile and laugh and hope and love again in a way that incorporates our son. Thank you to everyone who has helped us learn this very important lesson. You have shown us that no matter what, we aren’t doing this alone. For that, I am eternally thankful.
Wishing you all the best this holiday season!
with lovE, Skyler