“Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.” – Mary Ellen Chase
Sometimes March 26th comes and goes and I do not notice for several days that I missed it. This was the day my whole life changed and there are years that it has gone unnoticed. Sometimes the 16th passes by and again I have started to adjust to its monthly arrival enough not to fixate on it and the sad reminder it carries with it. But December 17th has yet to escape me, and with all of its horrors, Christmas still comes.
I remember meeting with Dr. Chang and learning that Tucker’s cancer had come back. I remember staring at the harsh white conference table under the sterile cool white light of the fluorescent fixtures above me. The words echoed in my head. “I don’t think we can save him.” I looked helplessly at him and begged for him not to give up. He hadn’t, he wouldn’t but he like me wasn’t sure what to do next, yet Christmas still comes.
I remember standing in the hall staring out the windows that revealed the beautiful Portland metro skyline, seeing all of its citizens buzzing about, probably off to parties, shopping and other festive holiday activities. Did they know I was even up here on this hilltop watching them go about their lives as my fell apart? I remember the sinking feeling that this would be my son’s last Christmas…..if he even made it to Christmas. And while I wanted everything to stop, Christmas still comes.
Decorations still go up, carolers still sing their hearts out, kids still dream of sugar plum fairies dancing in their head and the parties still go on. How can they party at a time like this? Tucker was dying. Because no matter what is going on in your life, Christmas still comes.
It has almost been four years since Tucker’s death. Each year brings a set of new feelings, as I move farther away from it, I am constantly reminded that it is actually closer than ever and will never leave. Like a limp, I am learning to live with it. The grief that accompanies the loss of a child has a unique quality to it, in that you never find peace in it. You can say Grandma lived a long life, It was her time to go and sooth your grief with the satisfaction of a good life. But what are you to do when you feel robbed. I feel robbed of the years I could have been with him rather than just remembering him. How do you sooth the grief of a life cut short? There frankly is no relief. Time does not heal all wounds and regardless of how you are feeling, Christmas still comes.
I have yet to decide for sure if this is a good thing or bad thing…..as Christmas time is a time for love and celebration, giving and encouraging, but most of all of hopefulness. I shudder to think what it would be like to enter the “beginning of the end” without a bit of sparkle and joy all around me. Without a reminder of all that is good and innocent. Without the a season of hope and goodwill towards men. I am reminded that in the midst of all that I cannot change, all that I have no control over and all the sadness that there is a breath of love, hope and mercy that is for all mankind. And maybe, just maybe, that is why Christmas still comes.