This is just a crappy blog post. I wrote another one but I’m not ready to post it. I have a lot of those posts lurking in my Drafts folder. But whenever I write something I’m not ready to publish, I try to talk myself into putting it up anyway. I wind up not posting it and also not writing anything new, and that’s no good for my head. So, here it is. Sorry for the bunk post but I really felt like writing.
Having a Christmas baby has its ups and downs. Actually, I just know the downs. Let me know if you have an awesome perk for being a Christmas baby. My son was born a few days after Christmas, and I’ve been fearing that day so much that I didn’t give too much thought to Christmas Day. I read posts from other people who have lost a child. They talked about how hard it is, and you just have to do what feels right for you. “Don’t push yourself,” people wrote. “Just get through it.” I scanned through the messages, not feeling all that connected to the fear around Christmas.
My son had 1 Christmas. There weren’t scads of special holiday activities that we did together. I feel especially bad for parents who’ve lost older children for this reason. So many years of developing special holiday traditions make it much harder for them than it is for me on that particular day. Last year he opened his little presents and we stuck bows on his head, which he cheerfully kept on until we took them off. He was ridiculously cute. I looked forward to the following year when I could buy him whatever he was interested in at the time. But that’s pretty much where it ended. He was even too little to get in the car and look for Santa the night before. He was in bed, sleeping.
The holiday approached. We bought a tree and presents. 10 months after his death, I still automatically look for gifts for him anytime I’m in a toy store. That made me sad, but no different from normal. I asked my daughter if she wanted to go visit Santa at the mall, like we did last year. She said no. Asked her a second time. No. We went to look at lights on Christmas Eve, scanning the sky for Santa’s sleigh. I wondered if he would be asleep at home this year, or if we would have put him in the car. I drove down beautifully lighted streets imagining him sitting behind me, staring at all the PG&E magic around us.
Christmas morning arrived like a truck. The second I woke up I knew I had underestimated this holiday. I had spent so much time worrying about his birthday that I didn’t give enough respect to this overmarketed, over the top emotional holiday. Spending time with family and opening gifts just feels wrong when our little boy is dead. He didn’t get to come. It’s bullshit.
We traveled to my brother’s house and had a good time in the afternoon. It was good to be distracted. He was on my mind constantly, but I was much better able to move through it with my family around. I knew they were thinking of him, too.
A few nights later I was lying in bed, thinking about his birthday the very next day. I checked my phone and noticed it was after midnight. It was now his actual birthday. I sang him happy birthday while lying there in the dark. It was his favorite song. Throughout the day I sang it several more times. We didn’t tell our daughter it was his birthday. She seems to be really feeling the grief lately and I thought it would be too much. At night, my husband and I went out. We parked our car outside a restaurant and I took two champagne glasses out of a bag that were labeled It’s A Boy! . We were given those glasses in the hospital when he was born 2 years before, along with a mini bottle of sparkling apple cider. Hoping the cider would still be OK to drink, we cracked it open and toasted to our beautiful son within minutes of the time he came into this world. We talked about how crazy life was, and how just 2 years before, to the minute, we were meeting him for the very first time. At home, we lit a candle inside a lantern and put it in the window, letting it burn all the way out during the night.
I cried a few times that day in between singing him happy birthday. But I was OK. I felt better prepared to deal with the birthday, probably because I spent so much time dreading it. I learned that The Firsts (first holidays after the death) can be the hardest, but as long as you mentally prepare for them, you can not only survive it, but you can actually crack a few smiles here and there.
We survived. Glad it’s over. Fuck 2013. Now to start preparing for the anniversary of his death.