It will be five years in early December since we lost our lovely daughter, Angie, to colon cancer. For anyone who has suffered such a loss, it’s easy to understand why the first Christmas was difficult for the family. Looking back, we tried. We were really just going through the motions and mostly because we had children around who deserved a tree, presents and the other traditional festivities we had previously enjoyed. We went through the motions of shopping, wrapping, favorite music and foods. We’ve collected angel ornaments wherever we travel for many years. The “angel” tree customarily goes up on Thanksgiving and always, the unwrapping of each angel raises memories of holidays past. But the first year, the angels remained stored. The tree went up late and was quickly decorated with glittery balls and tinsel instead of the prized angels.
The second and third years, the angels were unwrapped but we seemed lost in a “funk” and unable to truly enjoy the holidays. By the third year, we realized that the family was trapped in grief over the loss of their mother, sister and daughter. Our bond, cemented in love, was that we were all stuck there, as if stuck in the mud and unable to move on. That same year brought news of a new family member — and everything changed. We were still in the “funk,” but there was slice of daylight just over the horizon.
By the fourth year, our family was steadily celebrating the newest family member. Luke was only a few months old, but he had already pulled us from the grief and into the present. Angie would have wanted us to remember her but not live in the grief. There was definitely a difference last year! We felt lifted and happy. The angel tree went up on Thanksgiving, just as it had for years. Shopping and wrapping was exciting and fun.
We are all looking forward to this coming holiday season, imagining how special it will be for a very curious 18 month old. Thanksgiving will be filled with family and friends, too much food, lots of conversation and chasing Luke from room to room. We are planning to put the angel tree up just in time for the lights to come on at dusk. We’ve already been shopping, had to get the tricycle early. Nothing is wrapped, but it will be. The music will play, laughter will be heard and we will finally be able to celebrate the joy of the season once more. Angie would be so happy that her family has finally wrenched out of the funk and into the present. Things are finally beginning to feel “normal” again and at our house, that’s really something!