|Michaela’s First Christmas 1979
ornament on our tree, 2014
Today is Christmas Eve, and there are a number of people on my heart today who I know who have lost a loved one and who have a particularly difficult time at this season. Although this is completely natural, I just want to offer a different point of view. For me, the one thing that really bothers me about the idea of dying is the grief those I love would suffer. I could probably die fairly peacefully if I knew that everybody I love would be fine, if I knew they would be cared for, loved, held, that they would laugh and grow and be gloriously happy. Any parent out there undoubtedly understands exactly what I am talking about.
But if you are a parent who has lost a child, as so many of us are, do you not understand that your children love you as well, that they want that exact same thing for you that you would want for them? I know you sometimes feel guilty during those moments when you experience happiness, when you laugh, when the lights flicker on again for just a moment. You feel as though you are doing a disservice to your child when you do that, don’t you? But you are wrong, completely and totally wrong. The disservice you do to your child is when you refuse to allow yourself to be happy. I just want to reach out to you on your child’s behalf, touch your heart and tell you to smile. Each and every day find something to smile about. Laugh. And if you are trying to comfort someone who is grieving, there are probably only three things you can do … listen, hug tightly and deeply, and make them laugh. Laughter heals the heart.
Your child does not want you to grieve. Your mother or father who has passed does not want you to grieve. Your husband, wife, partner, friend, sister, brother … none of them want you to grieve. They want what all of us want for those we love. They want you to be happy.
I honestly manage to do this to the very best of my ability. Believe me, I know that it is not always easy to be happy in life, even when you haven’t suffered a traumatic loss. Often, it’s just a choice you have to make. This is a little more complicated for me … actually a lot more complicated … because I don’t have the sure knowledge that my daughter is at peace somewhere. I have to continually worry that she is still suffering somewhere. But even so, it would not do her any good at all if I allowed the darkness to swallow me. Nor would it do my other children any good. And are our other children not every bit as valuable as the ones we lost? Yes, of course they are. They also need us to be whole, and happy, and for us to be able to love them.
As always, my final word is to Michaela. This also is what I want for you, and nothing else, for you to be happy. If I knew you were happy wherever you are, I would be content. I am the mother, and you are the child, and my heart is wholly for your happiness and well-being above all else, and certainly above mine. However, the peace of mind that would come from knowing that you are okay, if you are, would be worth the world. On the other hand, if you are not happy, I reach out my hand for you to lead you back to where you can, perhaps, find that.
This is my 27th Christmas without you now, Michaela. But every year your special ornament is on our tree. I love you forever, my sweet child.