These are words of hope at Christmas from a bereaved parent…
As a bereaved parent, I have experienced only two Christmases: the ones before and the ones after my son’s death. Christmas used to be focused on material issues…what did I want…what did my children want. Eight years ago, my son died. Suddenly, my life ended its forward march and everything I had ever regarded as important became nonsense. My heart was broken. The first year I was numb, still cushioned from reality. Christmas brought an empty chair and silence where laughter had once been. The next two Christmases were devastating…the numbness that had protected me that first year was replaced by reality. I would never again see my son walk through our front door. I would never again enjoy the holidays…or life. Years four through seven I bought gifts for needy families, hung my son’s stocking beside the rest of ours and lit candles to include him in our celebrations. Still, I had only one thought in my mind: “If I can just make it through December, I will be okay.” And now I am at year eight of my son’s physical absence. A few days ago I woke to see that it was snowing. Overnight, the world had gone from brown to pure white…it was beautiful. Later that day, I heard someone in my home actually humming Christmas carols, but I was alone…it was me. And no matter how guilty I feel in acknowledging it, I am looking forward to the holidays. I feel I’ve learned how to not only endure, but to enjoy a memory that can only be defined as bittersweet. Not everything will change. I will still hang my son’s stocking beside the rest of ours, buy gifts for the needy, light candles in his memory, and all of the other things that have made the last seven years bearable. This year, I hope to do these things with joy rather than with bitterness and sorrow. This year, I want to kiss the cheek of a newborn baby and watch Santa as he holds wiggly toddlers on his lap. I want to sing “Silent Night” on a snowy night. This year I want to enjoy Christmas, not because I need to or because someone says it’s time to, but because I can.
Until next week,