It’s Christmas Eve, and I am struggling to find the joy tonight. I know come morning, that my kids are going to light up with the joy of Christmas, but tonight I can only focus on what’s missing.
Being a bereaved parents means living through every Holiday and life event with something missing. Even though I can make it through most days with a smile still on my face, certain days are so much harder. And today is one of those days. Christmas Eve has always been hard on me because I have some quiet time to reflect after the kids go to bed, and before Santa comes. I sit in front of the tree, and think about what it would look like with another little boy in the house.
How would I fit all of the gifts around the tree? What would he ask Santa for? Would he and Jack like the same things? Or even though they’re twins would they be completely different? How would Lilly be with two brothers to fight for attention with? Would she be more loving toward one or the other? Would she have had a hard time being the big sister to two boys or would she have stepped up and loved them both just as much as she loves Jack?
The “what if” questions are never ending.
For the last four years, every image that comes to mind of Christmas Eve is the first one after the boys were born. We had a glider chair in the living room for late night feedings because Jack’s room wasn’t ready yet. I sat holding him in the chair, long after he finished his bottle, and stared at the tree. Between staring at his peaceful face and the lights of the tree, I couldn’t help but cry over what we were missing.
I felt guilty that I was even feeling sad while holding my healthy son in my arms. I should have been filled with joy that he came home before his due date, and even before Christmas. That I was able to be home- free from the daily trips to the NICU that lasted all day and night. I should have been happy. I should have been filled with anticipation for what the morning would bring when the kids would be excited over what Santa brought them.
But I was none of those things. I was filled with grief and sadness, wishing for what I didn’t have. I was holding my amazing fighter of a son, while grieving the loss of his brother.
Over the years I have learned to give myself a little grace in these moments, but on Christmas Eve I always come back to that night.
And tonight is no different. I wait for everyone to go to sleep so I can sit alone and remember that night. I may cry, and I may not be filled with joy, but it is my time to think about our life, my son, and everything we are missing tonight.
Because if I don’t think about him, who will?