I really hate that Christmas is so hard to get through. I see our beautiful 2 and a 1/2 year old daughter experiencing the magic and wonder of the season, I am witness to that, part of her joy, bringing her the experience, hoping for her happiness, truly wanting to experience the beauty of the holidays through her eyes, happy for her and with her. I hold all those feelings parents should hold equally with the intense feeling of sadness, the aching grief that permeates every cell of my body. The constant hole in my heart always feels emptier at the holiday season than it does at any other time of the year. I wish both of my children were here. The Christmas Wish that will never, ever come true. The knowledge of that fact, the fact of my son's death, his constant absence, the unfairness of it, the pain of it all never goes away. Somehow it is intensified at the holidays. And it always feels like I am the only one who feels this way--even though I know I am not.
Our acts of kindness done in Theo's memory are a small thing that we can do to ease the pain of his absence. Tonight I got the Christmas stuff down from the attic and put up the tree, hung Theo's stocking, pulled out all the lights, the ornaments I know the girl won't break. While I was up there, I unzipped the big storage bags which hold the twenty or so stuffed animals we kept from the massive amount of donated stuffed bears, ducks, gorillas, doggies, hippos, that friends and family brought to Theo's funeral and to his memorial service. We donated most of them to ASK, which works with families at VCU's pediatric oncology department so the children would have something soft to hold during treatments and recoveries from treatments. We kept some. I brought one down for Lula---a present from her brother and another, a big stuffed, soft lamb---to donate to the Toy Drive St. Thomas Day School is currently running. We plan to send Lula's coats from last year, a few of her gently used toys, a new toy or two, and this lamb from Theo. It's almost as if it is his own personal part in our kindnesses of the season. Jamie and I will continue to post our acts of kindness here through the season. If you would like to join us, please feel free to send us your stories to post. Any act of kindness done in the memory of one you love who has died honors that person, brings more of his or her love to your heart, connects you with them, and touches the life of another.
If you are grieving someone you this love this holiday season, feel free to take a look at this article I wrote last year for the Crater Community Hospice newsletter.