Here we are into the new year, another Christmas gone. My ninth Christmas spent missing my firstborn and only my second missing my fifthborn (if that's a word). My emotions got the best of me this Christmas, and not in a good way. Six stockings and four children really hit me hard. My daughters perfectly innocent but searing questions as to why Santa didn't leave their brothers anything and how I knew their stockings were empty just killed my inside. I left the room with a trail of tears. We did everything like normal. The usual hustle and bustle, the usual family busyness and the usual stress that goes along with a lot of family visiting for a short time. We still got the boys gifts for their graves which we lovingly placed at the sites on Christmas Eve. But it wasn't enough. It wasn't right. For me.
Next year will be different. If I get my one wish we will find ourselves at the happiest place on earth and I will leave with some of the best memories ever.
But there will always be the year after and it is for those that I am seeking change. The traditions that have been in place and that I find myself and my families clinging to desperately have to give some or give way to new traditions. Traditions are traditions for a reason, I know. They stand the test of time. But I need to be able to stand through them and this year they frankly brought me to my knees.
For those of you newer to the grief that accompanies the loss of a child and specifically the shooting range full of triggers that accompanies holidays such as Christmas, I am officially nine years from my first loss and I can honestly say that ever single year since his loss I have experienced an unnamed sadness this time of year. I have found it hard to smile, found it hard to find the joy in the season at times (not always) and found it so much different than the Christmas I remembered. I thought hard about it this year since somehow as I find the years passing I find myself less internally flexible. I am less willing to give myself license and space to grieve. Another words, I am my own worst enemy. I am telling myself its not okay to grieve, or at least grieve so much, at Christmas anymore. That's not okay. I have given myself permission and now taken it one step farther.
I am changing Christmas. I am willing to create new traditions that will work for me. Ones that respect my sadness and will hopefully help me through it much better. I've come to the conclusion that it's just not worth it for me to continue putting on a smile just to make others happy when I am anything but happy inside. It's not all about me and I am going to find a way to gently incorporate as much tradition into my new traditions along with a healthy infusion of honesty and let the chips fall where they may. A few words to the big guy and the two little boys he's keeping for me can't hurt either.