It’s Christmastime, the season I’ve been dreading since I found out our son wouldn’t be spending it with us. My mind is and has been in a million different places. I longingly wonder if I’ll ever get to spend Christmas feeling the relief of holding a child in my arms. I cringe at commercials geared towards parents of young children and wonder how many other people are doing the same right now. I hide Facebook friends who post more than their fair share of baby pictures. I cry when I hear “Silent Night” because it reminds me that my nights are, indeed, deafening in their silence. I shake my fist in rage at what has been taken from me, what will never be. I breathe a sigh of relief because I have survived one more day.
I would like to try to focus on the true meaning of Christmas since I’m sick of Fischer-Price commercials and babies dressed in “my first Christmas” attire, but it doesn’t really help. As someone who is dealing with a fresh and crushing loss, Christmas only reminds me of what I don’t have. I imagine that’s a common sentiment among others who have recently lost someone close to them. Maybe they can find solace in the Nativity, but what about me? Christmas is about a birth. A miraculous birth of a baby boy. I am grieving a death. A tragic death of a baby boy. Though I’m sure it’s possible, I find it hard to think up a way that Christmas could be more the painful.
We went to visit Silas today. I couldn’t help thinking that I should’ve been cradling my precious son instead of a bouquet of flowers for his grave. Or that I should’ve had to shop for a Christmas present instead of the granite stone that arrived a week ago.
I find the stone troubling. It’s troubling for obvious reasons: a life and dreams cut short, the finality of seeing his name (and my last name) on a stone. In some ways, though, I find the stone comforting. It’s permanent and long after I’m gone, people will see my son’s name there and know that he mattered and was loved. It also reminds me of all of the people that care about us and him. We bought his stone and paid for his funeral with the money that so many of you generously and graciously sent to us this Christmas season. Though shaken to my core by his absence, I am very grateful that we haven’t had to beg or go into debt in order to remember him in a way we feel honors his life.
When I was in labor, I repeatedly asked Blake “How do people do this?” I was referring to the intense physical pain I was in, as well as the emotional pain. How do people do this? How do women put their bodies through this? How do women like me put their bodies through this knowing very well that there will be nothing but more pain when it’s over? So I asked. I asked until I’m sure he was tired of answering. I keep asking. In fact, I’ve asked today. And I’m sure he’s still tired of answering. His answer to that question hasn’t changed. Not once. “You’re doing it.” “We’re doing it.” I don’t know how, but I guess we are.