This is my third holiday season that I will be grieving my daughter, but my first without her.
Two years ago in mid December I was 27 weeks pregnant with my first child, when the doctors told me my baby would probably die. She was found to have low fluid, a result of non functioning kidneys, which would cause underdeveloped lungs. It was just a week or so away from Christmas and we had all sorts of plans to celebrate happily pregnant with our very wanted baby. I was numb, in a haze of anticipatory grief, and so we just powered through- continuing our plans. We got a tree, saw family, went to church. These holiday activities were so very painful. I tried to put on a happy face, but many of the festivities ended in tears. It was a very dark holiday.
Last year, my first holiday after my daughter died, I opted out. It felt too painful to go through the motions again with a false smile. We did not put up a tree, we did not see family, we did not go to church. We instead chose a small holiday- me, my husband and our puppy. Mabel was there too. We hung three stockings, Mommy, Daddy and Mabel. We received many carrot ornaments from friends and family, which felt good. It was still a dark holiday but I was learning how to find some light in it.
This year, we are opting in. We are seeing family. Four stockings are hung- Mommy, Daddy, Mabel and Felix. We got a tree. This year we will cut a branch off the tree- a very noticeable one. I want people to look at the tree and think, something’s missing. It’s not right. Not complete. Because someone is missing. My family is not complete. We will take that branch and bring it to her grave, so that Mabel can have a little bit of our Christmas too. This holiday will still be dark, but this year I am trying to find the light.