Every year we hang some very special ornaments. This year is no exception. This year we have three new ornaments for the year. Hanging the ornaments on the tree is usually a fun thing. Since we don't have any particular theme, but collect ornaments for all sorts of things from all sorts of places, the kids enjoy me telling them where we got each one and why. As might be expect this year's are bittersweet. They represent memories of death and of survival.
The first thing I bought after we lost Abigail was an ornament. I knew there wouldn't be any baby's first Christmas ornaments, but I wanted something. Something to acknowledge when we decorate the rest of the tree each year, that she was here. I found a stacked metal ornament on Etsy, one that of course was intended as a baby's first Christmas. It has a tiny hand print on the top disk. Her full name on the second disk, and her birthday on the third, along with the words, "I held you in my hand a moment, in my heart forever." In the move I didn't find it until Saturday, and was beginning to panic and worry it somehow had gotten left.
Then yesterday Britt opened up a package from my parents, he had left his Indiana Jones hat in Alabama, so they had mailed it back. Inside Mother had also sent an ornament, one that I had remarked was cute when she was helping me look for an ornament for my Primitive Baptist Secret Sister. It was really wonderful to open it up and see our whole family there together. I had forgotten just how pretty it was. And I especially like the stockings since I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to finish Abigail's stocking in time for Christmas.
The third new ornament for this year is one I got at Niagara Falls. For some reason I'm not entirely sure off, seeing red leaves this fall has reminded me of Abigail. Maybe it's because I first saw them there at the Falls just three weeks after her death, when she was continually on my mind. Maybe it's because I like to imagine her as a red head. The Falls were a beautiful and frightening in their power. I can remember at one point standing on the observatory bridge being struck with two thoughts. The amazing beauty of something so vast. And the thought that leaping off the top would be a sure fire way to end the agony. I mean from that height, with the rocks and sidewalk below along the river, there would be no surviving that.
Sometimes people have said that they have seen great strength in us, in the way that we are handling this loss. But I don't see any strength, I'm in survival mode. The truth is that I don't have the luxury of checking out early. I don't even have the luxury of staying in bed all day with the covers over my head. See Abigail's name isn't the only one on those stockings. I have three other children whose needs are very demanding, regardless of how I feel. The truth is that it's not about strength. I'm simply doing what has to be done. Just like I didn't have a choice when we lost her, I don't have a choice but to continue on.