Thursday, December 26, 2013

Hurting for the Holidays: Remember the Love by RaeAnne Fredrickson

photo by Jennifer Upton

For the 2013 holiday season, I am hosting a blog series called Hurting for the Holidays.  Twenty-six amazing guest writers are sharing their hearts, hurts, and helps to help those of us who carry an internal ache to navigate this celebratory season.  Find all posts in the series here, and participate via social media through the hashtag #HurtingfortheHolidays.

Somehow, we survive.

Somehow, we keep going.

Even when we don’t think we can take another breath, somehow we do.

In the midst of twinkling lights and “All I Want for Christmas is You” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”, we sit in our fog of sadness, emptiness and varying levels of disbelief and somehow manage to continue living.

The joy has left the season. All seasons.

There is a little giggle missing from the world. A little face, all aglow with wonderment, finding it hard to fall asleep from excitement, missing from in front of a glowing Christmas tree. There is an immensely noticeable lack of little boy toy boxes and cartoon-animal-themed wrapping paper strewn about our living room. There is a void where there should be overwhelming joy.

Samuel has died.

Last year was our first without him. The huge gaping hole of his absence could be felt as an all-encompassing black shroud over our holiday (lives). There were no smiles, there were no lights and shiny things, and there was no reason to get out of bed. Instead, only a desire to never see the light of day again.

Somehow, we survived.

This year, our second without him, there are some lights, some shiny things, but still no real reason to get out of bed. Instead, only dreams of what life could have been (should have been, was).

We focus on each other. We put in effort where no energy resides. We make an attempt to be something for the other. But we are both lacking. We are not he. But we try; what else can we do?

We look back and see others joining us on this unwanted path. Other families irrevocably broken. Other holidays that bring pain instead of joy. We know what’s coming for them. We cringe and shudder. We join them to walk for a while. We know we cannot save them, only listen, support and love. That’s how we keep going. We realize how far we’ve come without even knowing it.

We focus on Samuel. We do things in his memory. We create for him. We give back for him. That’s our way of parenting him. (Not the way we intended). That’s what brings life back into our hearts. That is the “somehow”. We survive by carrying his life with us.

We remember the love.

That very special love, just for him, that sustained his life for as long as possible. That unique love that will always be lacking in fulfillment, until we meet again. The beautiful love that began his life and still finds a way to overwhelm our broken hearts.

That is how we cope.

That is how we survive.

That is how we continue living another day without him. Another holiday season. Another new year.

We remember the love. And we share it. With each other, with family and friends, with him, in our own special way.

That love that shows up in all areas of our life. In the things we meticulously set out in his memory. In the photos we’ve now memorized that hang in our home. In the words we speak of our loss. In the items we create for him, adorned with that precious name, that bring light into our souls. In the still silence of two people sitting in grief, together but alone, crying tears that seem to be unending. We remember that love.

You too, can remember your love. You too, can survive. You too, can take another breath and walk another mile.

You too, can do this.

Remember the love
(Oh, you got to, you got to remember the love)

Remember the love
(You know that love is a gift from up above)

Remember the love
(Share love, give love, spread love)

Measure in love
(Measure, measure your life in love)
-- Seasons of Love from Rent by Jonathan D. Larson

image by RaeAnne Fredrickson

How do you survive when life is hard or hurtful?  What do you remember, as RaeAnne remembers the love? 

* * * 

RaeAnne Fredrickson is married to Bryan and mama to Samuel Evan, who was carried with love after being diagnosed early in pregnancy with a fluke and fatal condition. She shares her grieving heart on her blog, The Love We Carry and supports other families who choose to continue pregnancy after a fatal diagnosis at All That Love Can Do. She also writes for Still Standing Magazine. Mostly, she is missing her little guy and learning to live without him, one day at a time.

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"I am glad you are here with me."
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King