Christmas 2016 was perhaps the hardest I’ve ever had. After losing Lewis in April, we now had another bundle of joy on the way, eagerly waiting to be announced but the prospect of ‘celebrating’ such a merry season without Lewis overshadowed the whole season.
Chrismtas just didn’t seem like anything much to celebrate.
When I was pregnant with Lewis, I imagined this Christmas to be so special, so joyous.
I pictured Nate helping him open all of these presents he had no real idea we bought for him – playing with the wrapping paper instead, dressing him up and taking a million photos of his first Christmas in our family.
Instead, the amazing people at Peterson Family Farm donated a mini tree to us which we decorated and set up at his gravesite. NO WAY had I even entertained a fleeting thought that was how I was going to celebrate the first Christmas of our first born. Let’s just say that the greater part of the holiday season was spent on the couch with our best friend Netflix and even better friends, comfort food. I definitely put on a few extra pounds but it’s my preferred method to escape my sorrows without the risk of liver failure.
An unexpected journey
I was so naive and now realise that I did not fully understand the term “we’re expecting”. We were expecting to have baby Lewis in our arms and in our lives for a realllllly long time. Now I feel emptiness where I once expected joy to be.
What this whole experience has taught me is that life is just one big expectation and there are only certain things that you have control over.
As much as I hate it, life throws us curveballs and all we can do is roll with it – we can’t possibly (short of having a time machine) change anything about the events that have already transpired. As I sit here at my computer, a photo of my sweet Lewis stares me in the face, stealing my gaze constantly and in my reality, that’s as close as I can be to him right now. At any given time. All I have is photos. Keepsakes. Memories. That’s hard. That’s difficult. That’s all I have to cling to. But nothing about this circumstance will change, as much as I wish, hope or pray. He’s not coming back and my own unexpected journey begins; learn how to live life without his physical presence.
But it’s not all despair and doom, as much as it feels like it sometimes. You see, I’ve been given a gift, an incredible, sacred gift. Lewis made me a mother. I feel such incredible joy when I sit back and realise this aspect of my reality. How can I possibly thank him for that? Albeit, I’m a mother without a child here, I still have him, I’ll always have him in my heart and one day I’ll see him again. That’s my light at the end of this tunnel.
Only some can really relate
It’s difficult for people to connect with parents who have lost a child. I had someone sincerely say to me “I feel like your a burn victim. I want to take away your pain but I just don’t know what to do for you.” I don’t know what anyone could possibly to do make me feel better short of bringing my son back to me. Can you do that? No? Oh k then. Start to cry uncontrollably. Nate comes and lifts me up off the floor. We continue with life.
It really feels like there’s nothing anyone can actually do to make you feel better and that’s a really hard concept to grasp if you’ve never gone through this type of pain. As humans who feel love, we just want to comfort, to fix and to ease suffering. I can understand how difficult it is for those who don’t get what your going through, who just don’t know what to do, don’t know what to say. And to them, I say, “it’s ok” and I accept their efforts and I thank them. To know I’m being thought of, to know my family is being thought of, to know my son is being thought of is as best as you can do.
And want to know what’s even better? Say his name. Lewis. Let me know that he’s not forgotten on you. All of these things are more important than you’ll ever know.
Another baby, no less pain, more anxiety
Nate and I really feel like Lewis sent us a sibling; ‘hand picked’ as I like to say. I like to think he said something along these lines to his new sibling “yeah, they’re pretty cool parents, I think you should give them a go!” and then gave them a gentle push with his tiny hands. I mean, who could resist a cute little guy like that?! I’d probably jump off a cliff if he asked nicely enough!
So I eagerly wait. I sit alone in a dark room sometimes. I worry. I cry. I yell. I try to let myself be happy for what I have instead of devastated by what I’ve lost. But of course my arch nemesis rears his head, guilt. I feel guilty about trying to replace Lewis. In no way will this baby ever replace Lewis but there’s a small part (who am I kidding – a big part) of me that feels so guilty about it. Then there’s the added guilt of not constantly feeling excited about a new baby. Can I catch a break here?
Here’s how I cut myself some slack: Lewis was so awesome, therefore, his siblings would be awesome and I couldn’t bear to wait any longer until I got to meet them.
This is what I need to tell myself so that I can at least try and be happy and excited about this new sibling Lewis has sent us – to try and let go of some of the worry, the anxiety of experiences past. But as much as I try to put my A-game forward, buck it up and keep living, I still can’t help but worry about this baby. Will we even get to hold them? Will we get to keep them? Please, can we keep them this time?
The struggle is real
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But I try to get up every day and sometimes I’m even happy without trying. I try not to get too excited or expect everything to turn out peachy because let’s face it, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and I have first hand experience to back me up. But there’s only so much darkness I can let in my everyday life. I’ve decided to try take things day by day. I try so hard to not live in the future of “what if’s” because that chasm is deep and never ending and I’ve spent way too much of my life force struggling to navigate it.
After all, I imagine Lewis would want us to at least try and be happy despite his absence. The last thing I think he’d want is to be the reason we are constantly miserable in our existence. He’s a light in our lives, even though sometimes he feels out of our reach, we can try hold on to him and his legacy as best as we can.