Christmas without Ava is surreal, challenging and overall numbing.
The first year I was in screaming, gut wrenching agony. I remember sitting at our family Christmas SCREAMING on the inside about how wrong it felt. It was like having my finger nails pulled out one at a time, slowly over hours. It was as bad as I thought it was going to be.
My second Christmas without Ava was in the midst of having a newborn. Lillian was less than 2 months old. I was weepy, hormonal and entirely sleep deprived. It all meant that I was able to focus completely on Lillian and little on anything else and therefore somehow Christmas was easier.
This year was my third Christmas without Ava. How is that possible? I had one Christmas with her. This one.
|Christmas Eve 2010|
|Christmas Eve 2010|
Christmas 2010 was hopeful and innocent, naive and joyful. Christmas 2013 was none of those things.
I didn’t feel Christmas this year. At first I thought it was because we are not at home. We did not set up a tree and did not have our usual traditions. This Christmas we stayed at my parents home for Christmas Eve and Day, it was a different type of year because of that. Upon further reflection and thanks to chatting with the ladies at Elgin Community Loss Support this last Saturday I now know it was because I chose not to feel Christmas this year.
And I know what that means. It means it is going to bite me. It is going to bite me right where it hurts.
I know first hand avoiding grief is like avoiding the dishes. They just keep piling up as does grief. It waits. It waits lurking for you in the shadows until one day you are doing something innocent like driving to an appointment and the “right” song comes on the radio and you find yourself sobbing, screaming in agony as you pull over the car in hyperventilating tears as it crashes into and over you.
Yup. Grief is a bastard.
Somewhere in me I chose, quite successfully, not to feel Christmas this year. I went through the motions. We received some lovely, thoughtful and touching gifts from my parents and we made as merry as you can without your first born child. And I felt nothing.
As every year we go to Ava’s Tree on Christmas Eve. This year it was FREEZING. We normally like to take our time and spend a quiet moment. With the howling cold wind it was less than ideal. We hung our bells, which were purple this year. I took a moment and chatted with her, hoping that she would hear the ringing of her Christmas bells wherever she was. It was crisp, cold and quick.
|No editing to this photo. Just beautiful sunbeams at her tree|
|Opening Bath toys from Santa -Christmas Eve|
|Baby Emma from Santa! A new Dolly!|
|Cuddles while Opa reads “The Grinch who Stole Christmas”|
|Christmas Morning! Santa brought blocks!|
|Trying out the new sled from Santa!|
Lillian was a grand distraction. We took her out for a sleigh ride which she LOVED. I am becoming seriously concerned with the “danger baby” gene she seems to have from her Dad. She shrieked and kicked her feet the faster Matt would pull the sleigh. She loves to go as fast as possible, careening around corners almost to the point to tipping. Christmas Day we played with her and her toys, we ate fabulous food and none of it sank into me.
I did not feel the joy of Christmas this year. I did not feel it’s supposed wonder or marvel in the spirit of it. I moved through it as present as possible for our girl. I suppose that is about as good as it could get.