Against all odds, it is December. Mid-December at that. The post that I had wanted to write since December first has been sitting on a shelf in my mind – perhaps accompanied by that ubiquitous little elf – whilst the world has spun around me. The season of festivity. The season of good will. The season of busy, busy, busy.
Last year Christmas felt quiet. There were things that we had previously done each and every year that were left undone. Things were done that will probably only belong to Christmas 2012. Each day, I did some small thing for Xavier. An advent calendar in his memory. Each day of December I spent time with memories, time with my cherished son. I dedicated myself to him, to keeping his memory alive. It seemed the only way I would live through Christmas.
This year is so different. As if trying to make up for the traditions lost last year, we have immersed ourselves in Christmas. There has been carolling and Christmas lights. Decoration and present making. There has been Christmas shopping at the actual shops (last year it was mostly done online). There have been Santa photos taken. Our house is full of singing. The christmas tree seems more joyful. Even the place in our house dedicated to Xavier seems a little brighter than last year.
And Xavier himself seems a little further away. I do not want to repeat the latter months of 2012 – sometimes it is only in reflection that I can appreciate how truly dark those months were. But, that pain did serve as a connection to Xavier. The wound was open and weeping and he was there in such a visceral way. He is still here, but his presence is quieter. Perhaps overshadowed by the hustle and bustle. He is in no way forgotten, but at times it feels like in leaving my pain behind, I have left him also. There are times I imagine a tiny “mummy, what about me?” as I laugh with Elijah on my lap at Isaac singing carols at the top of his lungs. And I have to remind myself, that Xavier is there – in Elijah’s smiles and Isaac’s giggles.
This Christmas I think of those facing their first December after loss. It is truly one of the hardest times of the year. The world around you so seemingly happy and you so sad and lonely. Those that put on a brave face and continue in Christmas traditions for the sake of their living children – when all they want to do is hide and wake up in January. Those that said good-bye to their only baby, confused and hurt, looking at “My First Christmas” onesies with tears in their eyes. Those that have years of memories of Christmases with their child taken too soon – who feel their world shatter once again with each toy ad, every Christmas card, every department store Santa.
My first Christmas without Xavier was tear-stained but connected to him in a way that no other Christmas will be. Even without him physically here, it truly was Xavier’s first Christmas. It perhaps belonged to Xavier more than any of us. If last year was almost exclusively about Xavier, this year is about our family. Our three boys and each of their places in Christmas traditions.
For Christmas is a time of year when we can reflect on our loved ones – here and far away. Each Christmas card I have received has acknowledged Xavier and the ones I (eventually!) write in return will also bear his name. There are three stockings hung in our house – one for each son. There are baubles and decorations for each of my babies hanging on the tree. It is not a dedication to Xavier this year, but rather a family Christmas. And Xavier is and always will be a part of our family.
Some of the ways I remembered Xavier last year.