I’ve been sick with a cold for almost a week now. N has had it, too, but worse and for longer (t’is the season). It’s had us both couch- and bed-ridden, exhausted, and depleted. And it’s been a distraction to the lead up to Christmas because we’re just trying to physically function as the days tick by. I’m feeling a little bit better this morning and I looked at the calendar and can hardly believe how quickly Christmas has snuck up. What woke me up this morning was the vision I had of how we’ll include Odin in Christmas morning at my in-laws. I often struggle and get anxious about what holidays or events will look like when I want to include Odin in everything we do but, so far, I’ve always had an idea pop into my head as the day approaches. (For example, at our family baby shower for baby girl a few weeks ago, N and I took a few minutes before we opened gifts to talk about Odin and to light a candle for him and for other family members who are no longer with us. It felt good to bring him into that space where we wanted to celebrate our baby girl, but also wanted to acknowledge that life without our baby boy is still so hard. That forever balancing act.)
For Christmas, the idea isn’t anything all that creative or fancy, but the image of what I think will help our hearts came to me so clearly and made me think of our little guy and, of course, brought on a wave of grief.
We have so much to be grateful for, and so much to look forward to. But that doesn’t change the fact that there will always be a missing piece.
Grief ebbs and flows and changes, sometimes daily. It’s no secret that the holidays are a difficult time for anyone who has experienced loss. It’s a time to be together with family and to celebrate and when you’re missing someone it just makes everything harder. The happiness of others can be excruciating when you’re missing a piece of your heart. When I think about last Christmas and how I just wanted to skip the whole affair, I know that this year will be different. The sadness isn’t as raw as it was a year ago, but there’s no doubt that it will still be hard. I think every year will be hard even though I know the grief will continue to evolve.
Sometimes grief is a monster that rears its head, bringing you to your knees with images of the days and weeks around the trauma of the loss. Sometimes you are overcome with longing for what your life should be. But sometimes grief is gentler, and tugs at your heartstrings when you consider how much deeper you are able to love and understand the pain of others since your loss. Even though you would trade it all in a heartbeat to have your baby back, the connections you’ve made with others on this journey are a gift. Sometimes grief steals; sometimes grief gives.
What I imagine for Christmas morning is that that we will bring a small framed picture of Odin with a flameless candle to place on top of the piano in the room where we all gather to open gifts. I think we’ll also bring Kornflake (the bear we got at the hospital when Odin was born) so that our niece and nephew can play with him while the gifts are opened. Hopefully that will make everyone comfortable with thinking about him and maybe saying his name. Hopefully it will feel like enough.