It is Christmas morning. I am sitting here in a very quiet house and I am reflecting on the past year… the past two years… and how different things are now.
Christmas 2014 was our last Christmas as a full family. Christmas Eve Justin would be in town and hanging out with me all day while we prepped or today. No doubt he was wrapping gifts (he could wrap anything!) and seeing friends while he was in town. In the evening we would have watched Harry Potter movies (I know we did!) and eat junk food, staying up way too late as always.
Christmas day would have brought me making an egg bake and orange cinnamon rolls, the house would smell delicious. Brad would come over around 10 am and we would eat and then open gifts together. Hang out for the afternoon playing board games, laughing, and just being together. I can so clearly see that last Christmas together.
Which brings me to today.
I have a little tree set up on the kitchen table. This is a step Last year I did not put up a tree at all. I wrapped a few gifts last night… also new. I did not wrap gifts last year.
A few days ago I came across a message I had wrote on Facebook a year ago. I spoke on how difficult it was to be out in the community because you just never knew what was going to happen. I referred to it then as land mines…. what people said, what they did, or even the sad look they gave me created an eruption of overpowering emotion in me…. land mines. And I avoided that situation at all cost. In fact throughout last winter, I became so worried about the land mines I did my best to never go out into public situations where I might step into one.
I mean why put myself through that?
What caught me most about this year ago message…. was it made me think about those same situations now. Yes, they still happen. I still run into people who have not seen me in a while and there is still the question I usually can now answer “how are you?”, and yes still the sad looks especially this time of year, and yes the long hugs which are amazing and break me all at the same time.
and this is where I was surprised…
the world landmine no longer applies.
These situations that a year ago flooded my mind with the need to escape to get away from all these people that know my loss, know my struggle…. now are more of a speed bump then an all out land mine exploding my world again and again.
Please understand me. I actually LOVE that people still acknowledge my son and acknowledge the incredible loss that it is. Because – it is. And I do not want him forgotten or the reality ignored. Yes… it hurt every day. However, YES -acknowledge him. Share your memories of him… yes tell me that his eyes were like mine because mine are like my moms and that means SO MUCH. And yes, be real around me. Honestly – it does still suck. It hurts like crazy and I just do what I can to be strong and live out even this as well as I can.
Often (like the Ugly Sweater party) I put myself in situations that I know are going to rip me up…. it is hard to be around all of Justin’s friends or be at events that I know he would be as well. Yet – I have to be a part of that. To be close to them and their hurt, is a powerful speed bump worth every hard minute of it. I have no choice…. I have to go. I have to be with them whenever I can. They carry keys to my son. I want to try all the keys and learn all I can.
One young girl at the party came up to me at the end of the night. She said, “You don’t know me, but you used to work with my mom. I read what you write on Facebook and I have to tell you that I love you.”.
This. This. This.
Tears flow while I type this, but I had to share – the POWER of this. The power of knowing what I say, being 100% real and raw, can speak to others. Wow.
Soon…. Brad and I will go to a movie. Later, I get to watch him open gifts. We will eat together as a family…. which is sooooooooo bitter sweet. Yet I know and I know and I know…. Justin is smiling on us. He knows how incredibly hard it is for me to do it – but I do. For all of us.
My message to you (you knew I had one!) is make the absolute most out of today. See your Christmas through new eyes. Whoever you are lucky enough (yes lucky enough) to be with today. Make it magic. Love unconditionally. Let old hurts fade away. YOU get to decide what you do with today and how it all plays out. You never know what next year will be like so do not take for granted what you have today.
Merry Christmas my friends. ♥