Time is divided into B.C and A.D times. Yup that pretty much sums it up. Before cancer and after death. This is our first Christmas in this new era.
Two down.. one to go. This afternoon we head to my parents for our final Christmas “celebration.” I used to love this time of year. Looked forward to it and did my very best to absorb all of it. This month leading up to it though was filled with a dread.. A heavy cloud of grief that got heavier and heavier as the month went on.
Until about 2 days before Christmas, then my body said.. nope. Thats enough of that. And my emotions got completely locked outside of me. Christmas Eve I felt like I was having a out of body experience. I felt totally drunk.. although I was completely sober.. my face even felt a little numb.
And then I understood .. why the 2nd and 3rd year are often so much harder for bereaved parents.. my guess is the body doesn’t refuse the emotions anymore. It feels.. to the depths. I didn’t cry very often at all. It was honestly shocking.
I did a few times. I cracked and the sorrow crept out.. or in.. Not quite sure which way it flowed. And it was horrible. A despair .. a black hole of agony .. frankly so much worse than my worries of it. When we had our dinnertime thankful prayers.. mine was for a body that knows what I can handle.. And I meant it. Totally and completely.
Christmas eve was at my sisters. A few of us started a tradition 3 years ago. We do our own prayer service there. It has been absolutely perfect each year.. this one being no exception.
Setting up for Santa was one of those moments. Toys for only 3 children.
It was like my mind couldn’t comprehend it.. like my mind knew my eyes were playing tricks on me. We did have Santa give our family a gift in honor of Jennifer. A board game we can all play.. together. Because the thing she loved the most.. more than glitter or princesses or clothes was us. Being with us. And a super hero cape with a J on it. He gave one to all 4 kids.. because they are truly heroes. In all different ways… they have save us, me and their Daddy.
Jonathan took her job. Lead the kids to the nativity scene with baby Jesus in his hands. And told the other kids why we celebrate Christmas. And we added in a new tradition. We lit a candle together and Nicholas carried it out to where the stockings were..
Watching them then.. opening and sharing with each other was another moment.. the dark started to ooze. I looked around at them. Happy. Enjoying their presents. Forgetting the missing link.
Oh how it hurt. To see them ok.. when we weren’t. To see them smiling with the joy we so wanted for them. When we had none. I had nothing really. I was pretty void of all emotions yesterday. It seems my body couldn’t refuse the ugly and allow the beauty.
I am ok with that.
Jonathan stepped into the role of the oldest.. Excited looked at what his younger siblings had. Helped them open boxes or notice what they had missed. Just like she did. I loved him for it. So much. And I wanted him to stop it. So much.
I don’t want him to be the oldest.. I want her to.
I remember talking with Tony once.. not sure at what point in her journey it was.. that he would be our eldest. Tony got very mad at me for that. Swore he never would be.. that we would always treat him like the second born. But that’s not possible.. he is the oldest living child in our home.
I don’t want him to be the oldest.. I want her to. But nobody asked me.
The gift of cancer. Of DIPG. It was the knowledge. Jennifer and I shopped for her siblings. Made presents too with her Fairy. I liked that. I liked that I was able to give them all things from her. I wonder what it will be like when those are all gone? Will I do it in her honor?
I don’t know.
I feel like I should feel badly for hurting when they didn’t. Actually for hurting when they didn’t.
We put a lot of thought into the holiday. To try to make it special and full of joy for them. I didn’t realize how hard that would be for me. To succeed. Because the truth is. Its really only our worlds that completely stopped spinning when her heart stopped beating. Tony and I. Part of us died February 12th.
We hung out the rest of the day. We gave the kids a few options, but they voted to stay home. Just us. We were more than happy to oblige.
The last thing we did though.. Jonathan asked to make videos. Usually that means silly stuff. Playing around with the slow motion feature .. But last night was different. He wanted to be a director. He gave us all lines. I considered sharing the video.. but not today. It’s too intimate.
Mommy: Jennifer died from kids cancer.
Nicholas: My sister is in heaven
Daddy: Jennifer was 6 years old.
Mommy (speaking for Charlotte): Jennifer loves us and misses us.
Daddy: Jennifer was supposed to live a long time.
Nicholas: Not all kids die from cancer.
And then I remembered. Why we tried so hard to make it a positive day for them. Because knowing how they hurt.. how they ache for their sister is horrible. Having to watch and only be able to try to support them as they struggle with finding a understanding with what happened to her.. its such a helpless feeling.
They love their sister. But they love Christmas also. Their world got flipped. The spin is a whole different one.. But its still spinning. .. wobbling at times, but spinning. For the kids, I think its more like part of their childhood ended.. and the rest of it changed forever. But I hope.. I think .. I pray.. all of them is still alive. Badly bruised but still alive. please. please. please.
i miss you jennifer lynn
but i want to thank you
for teaching them
how to love so deeply.
you are worth it
for all of us
you are worth it.