I was sorting through Christmas decorations this weekend, purging a bit because we’ve got too much. I came across both of these treasures that I haven’t seen in a few years because they were buried in Santa hats and ribbons. One is a note that was on a present for my husband the first Christmas after we moved to Seattle. He was having a hard time finding his way around, getting lost all the time, so the family and I got him a GPS for his car. He loved it. The note says, “We don’t know what we’d do if we ever lost you.” That was our last Christmas with him.
The second is a note Steven wrote to me 15 years ago at Christmas time, telling me how much he loved me and how Christmas was so wonderful now with our two girls. He told me I was amazing and beautiful and a great mom, and he told me how much he was looking forward to us watching our daughters grow up. He signed it “Your husband, Steve” as he always signed notes to me, which always made me smile.
I remember the first time I came across this letter in my decoration boxes. It brought me to my knees. Now I keep both of them in my Christmas bins so that I can pull out and sit with those memories each year. Sometimes they make me sad but usually they make me smile and feel warm because I’m so grateful for the love and the life we shared. I adore the ways in which he still manages to stay so present in our lives and the ways he reminds me that I am so worthy of love. ❤️
Telling my two daughters that their dad died was the worst moment of my life. Worse than finding him dead – although that happened just minutes before. Telling them felt like I was doing something so huge, so monumental. I knew that the words coming out of my mouth were words that would change the trajectory of their lives forever. The weight of that, the enormity of what I was about to do, was brutal. As I sat in my eldest daughter’s bed, the grey light of the rainy morning starting to enter the room, I could feel the words form within me. It felt like they were holding on to my insides, not wanting to leave my body and come out into the light. It took great effort to pull them out and form the words with my mouth, force the air through and say them out loud. I did it. I said it. It felt as if I had done something violent, even though I said the words in the softest, kindest way I knew how. The words were something that divided that day from all others in the past. There was now a before and after. We all have before and after’s – before and after you met someone, before and after you were married, before and after you had children. But to be there bearer of your children’s before and after the day their dad died is quite the insanity.
Those first few months are really a blur for me. Hell, the first few years are a blur. A blur of sadness, grief, mixed with happiness and gratitude. Gratitude for the unbelievable amount of support our family received. It was amazing how our community came together to support us in ways we never dreamed.
I also discovered that I was pregnant those first few months – that contributed to all those emotions. The sadness and the happiness, the grief and the gratitude. I was so feeling every possible emotion regarding being pregnant with my 3rd child but I knew two people that would only feel one way about it. My daughters. They would feel nothing but happiness. They had been asking Steve and I for a baby for the past several months at least. I knew they would be over the moon and I knew that this baby would help to ease their sadness.
I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was pregnant for quite some time and I was worried that something was going to happen with this pregnancy. I could not bear the thought of telling my girls or our family and then having to tell them I’d suffered a miscarriage. So I waited as long as I could – until Christmas. Not the recommended or traditional 3 months, but by Christmastime I had known that I was expecting for over a month and it was starting to feel wrong to not share this news with everyone.
I had a plan for how to tell the rest of the family but I didn’t know how to tell the girls. I decided to tell them Christmas morning. We spent that Christmas at my brother’s house and I told my brother and sister in-law on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning the kiddos were up early but before my girls went to see what was under the tree, I went into the room they had been sleeping in together and climbed into bed with them. I had a box with me and told them I had a really good present for them. They looked at the small box and gave each other a quizzical look. They carefully opened it. Inside, I had placed a pacifier, a bib, a baby spoon, a jar of baby food, a tiny diaper. And a picture of the ultrasound. They took each item out and giggled and looked at each other, looked at me. “What is this? Why are you giving us this baby stuff?” They didn’t get it. Why would they? Who they heck would ever dream that I was pregnant?
I said to them, “I have a big surprise for you. We are going to have a baby.” They again exchanged quizzical looks with each other and then looked back to me. “Huh?….. What?….. Really??!!!” Once I confirmed it for them several times – the shrieks of happiness and laughter and the biggest smiles I had ever seen. Pure love and pure glee. They hugged me over and over, they hugged each other. We all sat there in bed together talking about it for a few minutes and then they asked me if they could go tell their cousins. I said, “Of course!” Out they ran to share the crazy news with their 5 cousins and the laughter and happiness grew and grew and filled the entire house. It felt like the house might lift off the ground from the sheer joy that morning.
It was a moment, a morning, a Christmas moment, that I’ll never forget. And telling my girls something so good felt like a kind of redemption from telling them something so bad just 7 weeks earlier. The news of this baby that was coming to be a part of our family did not and could not take away the grief that was a part of all of us. But that news and this amazing new development gave all of us something really good to focus on, something happy and positive. It gave us Hope and a light in the darkness. And I don’t think it was until I told my little girls about it Christmas morning that I could really see that.