The holidays.

I’ve never really enjoyed the holidays.  I remember as a young child my mom would ask me to decorate the tree with her and I wouldn’t.  I was never part of any marathon baking ritual either.  I can’t put my finger on it exactly but maybe it was the incomplete feeling I had with my parents being divorced. I never really saw my father so he wasn’t part of my life so it wasn’t like I felt like he should be present. I just don’t know why but I never seemed to “get into the spirit.”

Don’t get me wrong my mom gave us fabulous holidays.  She made sure she worked hard and had great presents under the tree, because let’s face it without a father she was the gift giver to 4 kids all by herself.   A few days before Christmas she’d let us open 1 present (usually small, very small) to get us excited for the “BIG” day.  We also had a tradition of going to church and there was always plenty of food to be had.  As there always is since I can remember we had people and family everywhere and we are far from a quiet bunch.   I, as a child, I’m sure enjoyed getting gifts but there was just something else to me missing.

As I grew up I started my own traditions.  In high school my high school friend would come Christmas morning and my mom would make us eggs benedict.   As I graduated college that same friend would come after Thanksgiving so we could make chocolate covered pretzels.  As we grew up and moved away those traditions went away. However,  I religiously put my tree up right after Thanksgiving and decorate the entire house.  I go shopping on Black Friday (I know for those against it – I’m sorry it’s what I’ve done).   I LOVE giving gifts but have never been a good gift receiver.

This Christmas just hurts.  I wish I could explain it more than that but it’s hard to put into words (Yes, believe it or not I lack in the description of how this feels). Yesterday, as I was getting ready for work I just lost it.  The loneliness of not having my child brought me to tears in my bathroom – blower dryer in hand.  I sat there trying to pull it together without all my mascara I just applied running down my face wondering “what the hell just makes the water works turn on and off without notice?”  My logical answer was “oh yeah, that’s grief.”

I later went to the Dr. and as he brought up losing Lydia several times (which is fine) I sat there pushing back the tears that often welled in my eyes.  I thought “oh God he’s going to recommend therapy and medicine and all that stuff I know I don’t need right now….just stop this emotional stuff today already.”  However, throughout the day I would see something or be reminded of how much I truly missed her and my eyes would well up.

I wonder subconsciously if because 2014, the year she was here, is almost over if I’m dreading that.  We will be moving into a year in which she wasn’t with us.  We will be getting farther and farther away from the day I last hugged and touched her.  Her memories as much as I try to hold them in this sacred part of my brain begin to slip and it scares me with each passing detail I lose track of.  In 4-8 weeks we will be moving from the house she last walked, ate, slept and laughed.  While excited for a new beginning I’m extremely sad to be leaving where I last remember her.  Everyday I sit in her room to work and feel peace and comfort of her proverbial arms  and sweet spirit wrapped around me

This year I sent out our Christmas card and there was the picture of just Tom, myself and the boys on the front.  I look at that picture and I feel it’s incomplete.  And yes, I know that will be our family picture for the rest of our lives but looking at it to me feels empty and not whole.  And the sadness of knowing she’s not here to complete who we are both physically and emotionally especially when the holidays are all about family – is painful.

For Christmas this year I granted Tom’s only holiday wishes he gave me back at the end of summer.  He wanted all of the videos I took over the years.  He also asked for a photo album of her MINUS any and all where she was hospitalized or sick.  For both projects I spent hours upon hours looking, categorizing, organizing and preparing what was needed for the final end product. I actually never thought I’d get the book done – emotionally I wasn’t sure if I could do it but it was ALL he asked for so I worked long and hard to pick just the right photos and hopefully create some beautiful pages for him.  I received the 101 page album yesterday and I struggled looking through it to see if it was as I designed. I know I am emotional right now and wonder how giving it to him will be.  I wonder if, like me, he’ll watch the videos and want to just reach out and grab her because seeing her move and make noise makes her presence so very real. I wonder if he’ll describe the day as I do…incomplete.

The ache and anxiety I feel with the upcoming holiday is more intense than I’ve felt in a long time. I know I’m going to struggle as the boys squeal with excitement over what they received, working hard to put that smile on my face because they are still with me and important too.  However, the emptiness and hole in my heart is gaping wide open and hard as I’m trying to fill it with the nice notes for Lydia’s stocking, our secret Santa and the virtual hugs and love we feel from around the world…it. is. hard.  I miss her and mostly miss the smiles and happiness your supposed to feel at Christmas with your family, your WHOLE family.  I feel anything but whole this holiday.

I’m assuming this will be my last blog post before the New Year.  So, before I close I want to say that no matter what my emotions are at this moment I have felt an intense love by those who surrounded us with love in 2014.

  • My Kleefstra family around the WORLD has been truly amazing, caring and giving.  If I had to be part of a special needs family – YOU, my friends, are it.  I continue to read your journey and marvel at how you navigate it.  I admire you.  I envy you. I am proud of you.  Thank you for how much love you have shown to us.  Keep going and staying strong for your special children -each and every day.  And keep sharing your KS kids so I can admire their eyelashes and mannerisms and be reminded of my sweet girl.  I love and thank you.
  • My friends who hold me when I cry, laugh when I laugh and stood by her bedside and by me when this was anything but easy. You still listen even when you might be thinking I should be moving forward some days instead of backward.  Thank you for letting me be ME.  I truly can’t thank enough and glad we’ve chosen each other as friends. I’m blessed with amazing girlfriends.
  • My family who is there whenever I need them.  Who stand by me each and every step whether I’m happy or angry and taking it out on you.
    • My mom who drove me as fast as she could so I could be with my girl.  Who hurts so bad for my pain she holds it in and I can’t say anything to her because I am in so much pain myself I can’t imagine the pain for my child and losing my grandchild.
    • My brothers who did what they could that morning to help, who carried her to her final resting place and who cried like she was one of their own.
  • To the people I didn’t know or know well that I do now because of Lydia…I’m glad you came into my life.  I might not have met you had it not been for having her or losing her and with the one door that closed many more were opened and I’m thankful for that.
  • To those that SAY SOMETHING…thank you.  I know it isn’t easy for you to say something, to ask me how I’m doing but it helps me so thank you.
  • To those that remember us – even months later. Your sweet cards, wonderful texts and phone calls are cherished.  She was our little girl – time doesn’t always heal all wounds.  You remembering…warms our hearts.
  • For those that left us because they couldn’t handle our special needs journey or her passing – you were sent to us for a reason.  It involves a lesson and maybe one we won’t know right away.  Whatever the case, I appreciate the lesson left and yet to be discovered.

To everyone else who cares, supports and loved us back in May and since that time…we thank you and love you for who you are in our lives.  We have learned a lot about perspective and appreciate those that want to continue to be there….and hopefully we for them.

May you have a blessed holiday and wonderful 2015!

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