**Before I begin this post, I just want to mention that I have updated Maya’s name gallery. It gives me such joy to see Maya’s name written in creative ways and I am so grateful to those who have taken the time to do it and to share it with me. Please check out the page!
And now for today’s post…
I knew the holidays would be tough this year. Last year, I was 10 weeks pregnant on Christmas day. Hackie and I knew very well that it would be the last Christmas where we indulged each other because this year all our efforts would be put into making the holiday magical for our new baby. My family celebrates Hanukkah. When I took the big family Hanukkah picture last year, I mentioned that this year there would be a new little one in the picture and I told my mom that she would get the honor of holding her new grandbaby. A year ago, we made big plans and had great anticipation for what this year’s holidays would be like. Today, Christmas Eve, I am not only missing Maya terribly, I am devastated to not be able to see any of those plans come to fruition. All of those plans, all of that eager excitement and anticipation died with her.
Up until recently, I was comforted with the knowledge that surely we would be pregnant by now. Surely, the weight of our first holiday season without Maya would be lessened by the hope of a new baby. I guess I was being slightly naive. I am not pregnant yet and I am tormented by the idea that if it takes much longer, we may be enduring a second holiday season with grief alone and no living child to share the magic with.
I’ve been having good weeks and bad weeks. This past week was really tough. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, I felt quite numb. When I turned the corner to go down the road to school on Monday, it hit me hard. Still, the shock of this tragedy came in fits and spurts. I feel like my body was protecting my brain from feeling the horror all at once. By Friday, I was relieved to have arrived at the end of the week. Still, on the day before vacation – a day that since I started school as a child was always so joyous and exciting, I was feeling so sad. I was not excited for vacation. I would rather be at work today, skipping vacation and the holidays all together. It all came out at the holiday concert. Our chorus teacher announced that they were all going to sing “Lean On Me” dedicated to the families in Newtown. I made it through about two thirds of the song before I lost it and had to leave. There were only a few who saw me and, with the help of a caring guidance counselor, I was able to pull myself together and get through the rest of the day.
Yesterday was my family’s big Hanukkah party. This is the first time we all were together since I had Maya. The last time we were all together was Mother’s day, when I was 30 weeks pregnant. While I was looking forward to seeing my family, I didn’t want to go. It’s the times when the whole family is together that it is ever so clear that someone is missing. As soon as Hackie and I pulled out of the driveway to head to my mom’s, I started to cry. When we got to my mom’s and were setting up the room so that all 20 of us could fit in the family picture, I started to cry. I remembered my Aunt’s tradition – every year since 2004, we have written down what we are thankful for and what we wish for in the coming year. We put our papers in a little pouch and they are saved year after year. I’ve always enjoyed looking back and smiling with the satisfaction that my wish came true. In 2008, I drew a diamond ring hoping Hackie would propose in the coming year, which he did. I can only imagine what I wrote down last year and the thought of looking at it was too much to bear. Every time I thought about it, I started to cry. As my family started to arrive and each of my aunts, uncles, and cousins hugged me just a little longer than usual, I started to cry. I wondered if I would be able to stop being so weepy. Eventually, the crying subsided and I was able to really enjoy myself. I wrote down what I was thankful for and what I was wishing for and stuck it in the pouch with the others. I decided not to read last year’s paper. As I always do, I took charge of the family picture. I placed my Maya Bear (which I’ll have to post about another time) on my mom’s lap – where Maya should have been. It was a very hard day. Surrounded by loved ones and comforted with the hope that next year’s party will be different, I survived.
Today, Hackie and I will head to his parent’s to be together. Growing up, Christmas was always different for me. Some years, my mom did her best to fulfill my need to be like all the other kids in my class and got us a Christmas tree. Some years, I traveled to my Dad’s and celebrated the holiday with him and my family out there. Some years, I hung out with my mom and didn’t do much of anything. In the last 4 years, Hackie and I have made our own traditions. I always say that Christmas is his holiday and so I let him pretty much call the shots. We spoil each other and the dog. We’ve always gotten a tree and played Christmas music while decorating. Last year, which was our first Christmas in our new house, Hackie decorated the front of our house and it was so beautiful. I’ve really enjoyed celebrating this holiday with him and coming up with new traditions for our little family.
This year, we weren’t sure what to do. I wanted to be supportive of my husband and his favorite holiday so I defaulted to him. I told him that if he wanted to get a tree and decorate, we would. If he wanted to do presents, we would. If he wanted to do nothing, I’d be OK with that too. It took a while to figure it out, but it eventually became clear. We purchased a hot pink tree that’s small and put it in front of our Maya wall. We’ve gotten a few ornaments as gifts and will purchase one new one a year in honor of our angel. We did not decorate or get a large tree. We are taking a trip later this week and decided that would be our gift to each other. We decided not to purchase gifts for others and asked that none be given to us. Instead, we decided that we would collect donations for Cradle to Crayons, which is an organization we are volunteering at in January. We will also be purchasing some items that would have been appropriate for a six month old little girl and will donate them in memory of Maya.
We decided to spend Christmas day as just us and Halee. We need to be home and it’s too hard to host our parents, which was the original plan. I’m not quite sure yet how we are going to spend the day. I think we are going to wait and see how we feel and let the day unfold. We are thinking about releasing some balloons for are angel and we may go bowling in the evening, which is one of our favorite things to do together. We will survive the day together.
Yes. It totally 100% sucks that Hackie and I look at this year’s holidays as something to get through rather than enjoy. However, I have come to realize that traditions can be paused and getting down on myself for not enjoying the holidays this year is not going to do anyone any good. Next year, the holidays will be different. I’m not sure how they will look and I’m not making any plans, but I know they will be different as another year will have gone by.
As hard as this has been, I continue to be comforted by the love and support I have received, especially from my husband. He is my backbone and I am blessed to have him by my side so I do not have to navigate this road alone.
If you are grieving this holiday season, I wish you peace and comfort.