Anyone who has lost someone close knows that dread that comes along with holidays. In fact, I remember prior to Jeremy's death how grateful I was to have never lost someone so significant to me to put a damper on my holidays, I always had so much to be thankful for. Oh, how much can change in a year.
I didn't get to write about Thanksgiving this year. It was Carter's first Thanksgiving, the first in our new home, the first year hosting, my first time attempting to cook a turkey....and the first without my brother. As I was preparing the night before, frantically cleaning the house and baking cookies, butter tarts, and apple pie in Jer's honor, I felt his presence. I felt how proud he was of me for keeping it together (and for making his favorite Canadian food). The day of though, I noticed that the absence I felt stronger was my brother's. Perhaps because it was my parents and other brother who came for Thanksgiving that made the hole feel so deep. And perhaps it's because I deal with Jer's death every day and have become used to the fact that he's not around. But just like the reality of Jer's death took awhile to really settle in, I just can't believe I'll never see my brother smile again or play with my kids. I'll never hear "I love you sis" or hear his sweet voice call me on my birthday like he did every year. I'll never eat his famous chili again or play cards with him or ride roller coasters with him every Memorial weekend at King's Island. I really miss my brother.
The next day, I mustered up the energy and desire to decorate the house for Christmas. I used to jump up and down for the day when I could decorate the house with my little family. Even though it usually consisted of Jeremy tinkering with his itunes playlist to choose just the right Christmas music, which took him literally hours, while I hung up everything til he was done and ready to hold up a child to put the star on the tree - it was one of my favorite times. I think the only real pull for me to do it this year was because I have a new, beautiful house to decorate and two kids begging me to put 'toys' on the tree...it's hard to not get into the spirit for them. And truthfully, it felt good. I remember last year only putting the tree up for the kids and having Sarah help me so I didn't come unglued. I almost did. And it was completely meaningless for me, I was drowning in sorrow. This year, as I carefully unwrapped all the individual glass ornaments, I replayed our life together told through those pieces.
Jer's moose ornament.
The reindeer one he picked out when I worked at Pottery Barn.
Our first Christmas ornaments.
The fabric red heart with our picture inside.
The cluster of ornaments we got as a wedding gift from a friend my mom worked with, including a little bride and groom and a mailbox that is hand-painted with "The Kings" on the side.
And all the priceless ornaments the children have made.
I used to be picky about the tree, not wanting it to look 'tacky' with multi-colored lights and ornaments that were falling apart but I feel so differently now. I opened our new Christmas tree that was given to us by the radio station last year, complete with built-in LED colored lights, and it made the kids soooo happy! This tree represents our family: it tells our story of messiness, color, and memories. It's priceless. My whole life is up on the tree this year.
I felt like the old me for awhile as I got so excited to get a few new decorations for the house. I even created my own centerpiece with all the vases I've gotten over the last year:
The warm presence of Christmas is back in our lives. I'm trying not think about the fact that my brothers birthday is this weekend or the fact that there will now be two giant holes at Christmas time this year and how hard that is going to be. I'm trying to focus on something bigger. Something hopeful. I read this today in my daily emails this morning:
"One thing about being in grief is that your sorrow is certain, and your loss is so real you literally taste it to the depth of your being. You have to have a certainty that is bigger than the certainty of your sorrow."I have to. I just have to.
Baby, I hope you feel how desperately you are missed and the void that can never be replaced. There is just no sense to be made of your death. All I can do is carry on with the certainty of something bigger and knowing that someday, when I see you again, everything will fall back into place. You are my compass. I will stand for our children, who are growing like weeds and still talk about you every. single. day. I won't have it any other way. We love you so deeply, you are forever woven in our hearts and souls. Please wrap us in your love and protection as this holiday season approaches for us and the feeling of your absence will magnify. And please, give my brother a giant hug from me and tell him how much I miss him.
I miss you too, baby. Deeper than I know how to express.
I love you forever and always.