It is December 25, 2014 at 10:00pm. Merry Christmas to one and all, especially my Zachary. This was our first Christmas without you here. I have been dreading this day and the emotions associated with it since Thanksgiving. I have been counting down the days until Christmas and trying to “plan” what I would do if the emotions become too much. What would be the exit strategy? What would I feel when I was celebrating with the kids? How can we keep up traditions without him?
I decided that Grace, John’s girls, and John needed to have a Christmas. In June, I started shopping online to make sure we had gifts even if I couldn’t walk into a store. The boxes started rolling in when I was home in July and right up until last week. I was determined to make sure I could give them a little magic this Christmas. The packages were stacked in the closet one by one (ended with a mountain as usual). It was going to be ok. The kids would have Santa and that makes it better.
As the Christmas season began, office parties were coming up. I had a hard time going to the Christmas parties. Eventually, I made it to each one. I was so thankful that God had afforded me the strength to just walk in. I was greeted by love, support and kindness that is unmet by any other experience I have ever had. I am grateful for my co-workers and can not believe I am lucky enough to have these amazing people in my life. I smiled. I cried. I was thankful.
However, when the night ended, I came home and no little man was there to have stayed up too late waiting for a good night kiss, story or just a snuggle. I am grateful for the support of many but I would give anything for one more hug. One more bedtime story. Just one.
Friends and Family kept asking me, “what do you want or need for Christmas this year?”. I politely answered, “Oh I don’t know, socks, candles, lotion…” The truth is that all I want for Christmas is you, Zachary. I don’t say that because I didn’t want the reaction that often naturally follows. The person feels horrible and I didn’t want to do that. I know that it is the impossible. If you ask me, that’s truly what I want. Zachary back for the next 80 years or so.
This is the deep truth of my grief. One minute, I was driving home from a doctor’s appointment looking for an ice cream shop. The next minute, it was three weeks later, I was broken and he was gone. No last kiss. No last hug. Just dust in the wind.
When I ponder this loss of those moments, I realized I was spared seeing my son’s body without his spirit. Our last moments together had so much joy not sorrow. We were together not apart. His spirit has left his earthly body and gone on ahead of us. He is spending his first Christmas in Heaven. It has to be the most beautiful celebration. I feel more peace knowing his spirit is with us even when we can’t kiss, hug, hear, feel or snuggle him.
Last night, I was playing Santa with John as we have done for the past 4 years. Wrapping presents, stuffing stockings, eating Santa cookies, writing a goodbye letter from Jack (our Elf on the shelf) and making sure our lists where checked off. I asked him, “What do you want for Christmas?”. He said, “I already got it”. I was confused. I asked him what he meant. He said, “You are here”. It made me stop and I got teary. I realized that I could have left my body as well. We lost Zachary. I lost my independence. It was a horrific event. Prayers were answered for me and my healing. Prayers were answered for my cognitive and functional abilities returning. I am a miracle.
It is the dichotomy of the situation that amazes me. To be angry and joyful at the same time. To be surrounded by prayers and cheers in my corner and to be so lonely in your grief. This situation has changed me. I have a choice as to which path I will follow. The supportive, joyful, grateful path with light or the dark, lonely path of despair full of “poor me” or “why me”. It is a daily struggle to continue to chose the right path. There are good days and bad days in my life. Looking for the joy and gratefulness is not a simple task but, I will actively look everyday.
For today, it is Christmas night. I am here with my family, even with mom who flew in to spend the holidays with us. We had a magical day opening presents and enjoy each others company. I am grateful that I have the chance to be here with them. I miss Zachary every moment of everyday. It feels like a piece of my soul is gone and will never be replaced. The loss this great is not something you ever “get over” but you learn to cope and grow stronger. His little spirit is always with me but, I wish I could just wrap my arms around him and give him a hug and say,
“Merry Christmas Zachary. I hope that you are celebrating with Jesus for his birthday. I am sure it is a big celebration in heaven. We miss you so much here. We found an angel ornament in your stocking this morning and made sure it was on the tree. Now, its late make sure no more candy, brush your teeth and get some sleep. I love you to the moon and back”.