I just wanted to write a short note for Christmas. I have received a number of messages of concern for me at this time of year, and I wanted to respond because I know that very many people have suffered losses, especially this year.
My first Christmas without Michaela arrived just weeks after we lost her. We’d passed through Thanksgiving five days after the kidnapping. There had been no sense of holiday. We’d had plenty of food, provided by friends, but we ate it on the go around the makeshift search center that had been created on our dining room table. Christmas, however, was different. We’d had a few weeks, and it was not as chaotic, but what made Christmas really different was my children. The oldest were eight and three at the time, and there was no earth shaking event that could dampen their joy and excitement over Christmas, and their joy became mine as well. I remember nothing about the gifts that year, or where they came from, or if I actually left the house to go shopping, but kids are so easy to please, and pleased they were, and I absorbed their pleasure like sunshine after rain. There has not been a Christmas since then for which this has not been true.
And the same is true this year. I moved to Iowa, but two of my kids and grandkids moved here as well. And their joy will be mine as well, just as it has been every year.
I wanted to post this to remind all of you who have lost loved ones to have a happy holiday season anyway. Remember, the one you lost wants you to be happy. And please, don’t ever let the magnitude of your loss diminish what you have. There were times growing up when my children felt overshadowed by Michaela, but they were not. They were what kept me alive. When my daughter was around seven, she told me, “But you talk about Michaela all the time, and you cry about her.” And I answered, “but I talk to you, and you make me smile and laugh, and that’s way more important.”
For all our losses, let’s be grateful for what we have. For all the love we long to give our lost ones, let’s give it to our present ones. As I titled a recent blog entry, “When all that’s left of me is love, give me away.”
May you be blessed.