I hope you’ve all had a wonderfully merry Christmas. For us, this time of year is so mixed. It’s usually our favorite time, but this year we were expecting to share our holiday with our precious little girl and so our celebration went out the window, with no stockings hung or tree erected and decorated, no carols sung or Christmas morning cheer. Instead, we spent the morning together and the afternoon with friends, sharing love and ourselves with each other and with friends and their children and holding back the tears that inevitably fell for the loss of our daughter upon our arrival home. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.
It was hard not to think about how we were supposed to be wheeling a stroller up the incline to the base of our friends’ apartment building this afternoon, and to not picture our beautiful Angel in the Christmas outfit we had bought for her, or to think about how beautiful she would have been with the Christmas bow I had picked out that would have been clipped to her headband or hat. It was hard not to miss her when I held our friends’ children, and saw them with their parents. It was hard to fight back the tears when I realized how much we were missing by her not being with us. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.
It was hard not to hear the grief and uneasiness in the voices of our family members this morning who were having a hard time celebrating, especially since we are so far away and it’s difficult for them to be able to offer sympathy to us the way they might want, because they feel the loss of their niece or granddaughter or cousin. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.
It was hard not to have an emotional reaction at things as simple as soothing the whines and cries of our friends’ children, or watching them play, smile, laugh and move – things we never got to see and never will experience with our little girl. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.
We were watching Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday (in an effort to make some new tradition this year that we could conceivably carry on in future years, we thought we’d start watching all of the HP movies each year between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – we made it through 3 movies, but not all 6) and in the part where Harry has been caught by Dumbledore gazing into the mirror of Erised again, Dumbledore offers some sound advice to his protegé. He tells Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” This hit home for me because I have been living so much in the last four weeks, rather than incorporating the memory of Angel into the life that must go on without her. While I feel like the world has been moving a million miles per hour and Jim and I are standing still with our hearts in ruins, I know that we must attempt to not just look toward the future and hope and a life that will be okay (but not always great) without our daughter here, but to actually move into that future and hope.
Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way and our hearts break daily for our little girl who would have been four weeks old today, we know that she’s better off, does not have to live in fear or pain or frustration, and that we can be so thankful for the time we did get with her because 39 weeks is longer than many get with their children. Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way, we still have a lot to celebrate and a lot for which to be thankful, and her birthday each year will fall in the holiday season to remind us that though she’s gone, she lives on in our hearts, we will see her again in Heaven someday, and we have our own personal advocate and guardian Angel up there each moment of our lives. Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way, we can be thankful that we never had to discipline our sweet girl, be embarrassed by her, show anger or frustration toward her, or argue with her, never had to see her cry, never had to see her sad or disappointed, and never had to show disappointment in her choices, actions or words – we never had to break her heart, and ours breaking is a small price to pay. Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way, our lives are truly complete with our faith in God and our strong and ever-strengthening marriage, and adding to our family was just a bonus, not something we need to survive. Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way and we have holes in our broken hearts where she belongs, she will always be in our hearts, and we can take comfort in all that her short life accomplished in ours – making us strive to be better, smarter, stronger, and helping us to learn to work together better. Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way, our Angel was wonderful and perfect and amazing, and will always remain that way in our thoughts, memories and hearts. Though it wasn’t supposed to be this way, it is. It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live; we cannot look to what might have been and refuse to focus on what is and what will continue and what will be in the future.