Happy New Year
I realize these are just things people say—much like “how are you”. But let’s be honest: the chances of me having a “merry” Christmas were somewhere around zero percent this year. Not a chance. My daughter died four months ago today. She’s now been gone longer than I had her. When others were complaining about their lack of sleep because of the excited little ones in the house, I was desperately missing my child. My heart sank every time I saw a little girl in a little red bow or patent leather shoes. I ache for sleepless nights and an excited child. Instead of waking up to the delighted squeals of an eight month old, I slept in and went for a run. Not the Christmas of my dreams. Maybe that sounds good to those of you who were up all night and had tiny little faces urging you out of bed, but I assure you: I wish I was you. I wouldn’t trade you—no, I wouldn’t wish this pain upon anyone. But I wish Zoey was here.
On Christmas Eve, I realized I didn’t get Zoey anything. And I felt like a terrible mother. I got online and ordered an ornament engraved with her name. I know that no one else would have noticed anything missing, but it mattered to me. And so on Christmas Eve, Joe and I went to the mall to pick up a silver butterfly with her name etched on the front (and an anchor on the back). Because that’s all I had. That’s all I could do.
I cried holding it—running my finger over her name. And I left the room crying when my cousin’s little girl received one of the books we read to Zoey (The Day the Crayons Quit). It was one of my favorites. And I wanted to jump out of my skin when my happy nephews ran into the room excitedly telling us what Santa brought them—because Zoey wasn’t there. And I always imagined her running after them, trying to keep up despite their age difference. And she never will be there. For every Christmas here on, I will wonder what would have been. How happy we could have been.
Chances for a Happy New Year look bleak too. I went to a support group meeting and the leader who I’ve spoken to before noted she feels I’ve “hit a wall”. That perhaps I’m not coping as well as before. Maybe it’s just the holidays where reminders are constantly thrown in your face. Maybe the shock has worn off. And the thing is, she’s right. I’m having a much harder time finding shreds of happiness. I have to fight harder to fake it. The insensitive things that people have done and said hurt me more deeply. When you’re completely exhausted from grief, there are only so many things you can ignore. And so many times you can put on a brave face. Every day is a fight not to give in to the aching. I know I am better for the time I spent with my sweet little angel, but I miss her. Terribly, completely, overwhelmingly.
So if you ask, I may tell you my Christmas was “fine”. But it was not. It was empty. So very empty.
I’m still training for the Disney Princess race. I found a “hidden Mickey” on my Christmas morning run. Yes, I realize it’s just a water/oil spot but I’m trying to find any bright spot that I can. And sometimes those spots come in the form of a stain on the road. I’ll take what I can get.