Small Things, Great Love
Merry Christmas, my baby girl. My heart aches deeply for you today. The joy I had yesterday diminished in my slumber, and I awoke in a desperation wondering why you couldn’t be here. This is our first Christmas without you. We will have so many more to celebrate in the years to come, and you will never physically be part of them.
My heart and head are not aligning, and I long for this to be so different. I wish I wouldn’t have had time to bake cookies, or sweet potato casserole. Curl my hair and fix my make up for Mass. Clean the floors obsessively, or stay up until midnight wrapping gifts. Nor time to watch your brothers and sisters play with their new Christmas gifts while I sat on the sofa next to your Daddy, sipping hot apple cider with my arms wrapped around my growing belly. I wish my arms were wrapped around you.
Last year on this day I envisioned what it would be like having a nearly 7 month old in our house for Christmas. Would you be crawling? Pulling ornaments off the tree? Gleefully tossing scraps of wrapping paper and attempting to shove them by the fistful into your little mouth? Would you have slept through the night and allowed me to arise to your babbles on Christmas morning? What would you have worn today? Who would have been fighting to hold you? I will never know these things.
We brought flowers to your grave this afternoon. I’m sorry I couldn’t stay longer. My heart was aching too deeply, and I was trying so hard to hold it together today. How can I stand before what physically remains of you, while I should be holding onto so much more? My mind began having terrible visions of what that looks like, and I just had to walk away.
We did our best to bring you into this season. Over the weekend we made ornaments for your own tree. Hearts, butterflies, and roses...everything you send to us. We even placed your handprint and footprint on some of them. I can’t believe how tiny you were. How quickly I forgot. We hung a stocking for you and opened a gift from you to remind us of what we are fighting for...hope. A beautifully painted cross with pink roses, a blue butterfly, and the word HOPE etched at the top, which now sits next to your picture on the mantle. I bought it months ago before we knew the baby growing inside of me was a baby brother. He gave me lots of kicks today...a beautiful gift for Christmas, when the only gift I would have rathered is you. At least today we had the hope of your baby brother. I feel like you’ve known all along.
Your presence has definitely filled our home, and I want to cling to you in my heart while I feel it so intensely. I’m begging you, please don’t leave me. Please stay near.
Your aunts, uncles, and grandparents brought you into the day, as well. We received two beautiful Willow Tree figurines that were just perfect for you. And me. And us. A tiny angel, clutching an overflowing bunch of roses entitled, “An Abundance.” Yes, my girl, there is an abundance of love. And a mother standing tall while holding a single rose, entitled, “Love.” I’m so glad they remembered you. It made me and your Daddy well up deep, as tears drew up to our eyes, wanting to fall endlessly. How I just wanted to hold you. And hold you is what I want still.
As the day winds down, I feel so much. I am exhausted. I’ve been fighting back hard tears all day long. But we made it. We made it through this first Christmas. It may have been a complete blur. I may have forced myself to be numb and to participate the best that I could, just to survive. Just to be present. But, we made it through the day without you in our arms. We are still standing, if even only barely. I sit reflecting on so many lessons you have taught me, but the main one being love. It’s not about gifts. It’s not about receiving. It’s not about the hustle and the bustle. It’s not about “being all things.”
It’s about slowing down. And savoring. And remembering. It’s about being fully present. Trying to extend a bit more patience. A bit more grace. Living fully alive. Being fully transparent. It’s about putting first what is most important...Our family. Your Daddy. Your three brothers, and your two sisters.
It’s about fighting for love. Fighting for joy. Fighting for hope. It’s about giving the gift of love in small ways. In small things. In all things.
You have taught me so much. And I love you with all I am. I only wish it didn’t take losing you to see life so differently. All the gifts. All the stuff. All the mess. None of it matters. At the end of the day, the things we can lose are what matter the most. The things that can never be replaced, are all we really need.
I love you so much, my girl. I know you celebrated grandly in heaven today. I get excited and so proud just thinking about it. I’m so thankful to be your Mom. Merry Christmas, my love.
“In this life, we cannot do great things. Only small things with great love.” (Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta)