I was so grateful that last Christmas, we had the blessing of shock, numbness and denial protecting us as we made it through the holiday season.
I have always always loved Christmas and have always loved it because of what it means. I love the purposed and happy hearts that Christmas time seems to bring out, but more, I love that Christmas came to be because of a precious little baby in a manger.
I really did consider the fact that Matthew had just passed a blessing in a way--and by that, I mean that we were already going through one of the 'firsts' (and a TOUGH one at that) that I knew was coming and we were just too overwhelmed with barely breathing to be noticing all the things that I do now.
I should be trying to keep him away from the ornaments on the tree. I should be buying little things for his stocking and presents under the tree for him. I should be bundling him up so that only his rosy cheeks are showing and going to visit Santa. I should be taking pictures with him in a sweet little holiday outfit and putting them on a Christmas card for everyone I know. I should be finishing up left-over birthday cake.
Things should be so, so much more different than they are now.
Which is not to say that I am not grateful for so many things that are the way they are now...just that it should be different, and a year passing doesn't make it any easier. This year, I am more acutely aware of what I don't have, and it's hard to keep that from overwhelming me as I focus on what I do.
I don't have that blanket of numb and dumb-founded to protect me this year.
Yesterday marked 52 weeks...exactly one year...since I had to leave the body of my sweet little boy in the ground at the cemetery. Ironically, the funeral home we used had a beautiful and sweet service for all those lost in the last year that we attended yesterday. They had a slideshow of all the people they arranged services for and I asked John, "What do you notice about this slideshow?"
He answered, "They are all old."
They weren't, of course...there were sadly about 4-5 teenagers/young adults....but of the many, many, MANY people on that slideshow...my Matthew was the youngest. The others had lived longer lives and their mommies had the chance to hold them and kiss their sweet little ears as they told them how special they were and how loved they were.
All my Matthew got from me was a touch on his cheek and his shoulder, and sobbing over his grave.
Today is the actual year date--December 5. Again, ironically, we sat in the same church pews and saw the same decorations that had been at Matthew's funeral...a year later. The church had been decorated for Christmas last year and honestly, it's very classic decoration that we didn't feel needed to be moved or rearranged for his funeral. I remember the fluffy, white netting material that was under Matthew's coffin. It was there again today, with a beautiful Christmas flower arrangement.
I didn't cry. Mostly, I wished that I had asked someone to take more pictures last year. At the time, I wasn't even thinking. I doubt making sure someone took pictures of my son's funeral was one of those must-dos I had on my list. I guess I also felt like it may have been a bit morbid. I mean, really...pictures at a funeral?
Of course. What else do I have?????? I sure as heck can't remember much. I can't remember who was there, but that a ton of people were. I can't remember what I ate, though I couldn't believe how many people were fed and taken care of. I can't remember much of what was said, though I have the audio cd available when I'm brave enough to listen. I can't remember much at all....and now, wish that there were pictures to help me remember. To give me more of him back. To remind me of things I never even knew...
Which is why I was so, so, so grateful when my sweet friend Terri showed me this picture she had on her computer. She thought it must have come from me, because from where else would it come?
But it didn't. I'd never seen it. A few weeks ago was the very first time I saw it and it makes me wonder what other pictures or things that happened are out there that I still don't know about...they are like little gifts every time something comes up. And that picture...taken a year ago today...is a little gift. A bittersweet gift, but gift nonetheless. It's the last memory I have of his little body, and though I know his body is just earthly and void of his spirit now--I have said it before and I'll never stop saying it.
I loved, loved, loved that little body. I prayed for that little body. I dreamed of every little inch of that precious body and couldn't miss that sweet skin more if it was my own. That body was priceless.
I thought I sort of dodged a bullet last year with the first month or so being just so overwhelmingly numb and that I could check "Hard 1st Christmas" off the box.
Who knew that "2nd Christmas" was going to be even more difficult?
Missing my sweet boy....and not believing it's been a year since I had to leave him there...