My first Christmas without Brandon was intolerable. If it had not been for the fact that our middle daughter and our granddaughter live with us, I would not have put up a tree. We had to put one up because she was 8 yrs old and still believed in Santa. Of course, we still have to put one up because she deserves the good memories of childhood. What she will take with her into adulthood is already laced with too much sadness and loss. I feel a certain responsibility to make Christmas as good as I can, not only for her but for all my grandchildren and family. The one thing I insisted on the first two years of Brandon’s absence was having all blue lights on the tree. My granddaughter does not relate the color to my sadness, yet.
I cannot bear to hear the song “Blue Christmas” or really any of those songs about someone being gone or missed. The stores are playing Christmas music that reminds me of my “little boy”…at every age. I try not to cry and make a spectacle of myself but it is an uncontrollable urge prompted by the seasonal accompaniment to my pain. With every jingle and ho-ho-ho– I am transported to those happier times of stressing over what to buy whom and who will like this and so on. I delighted creating fantastical Christmases that were not afforded to me as a child. It was more fun than it was stressful.
While preparing for this Christmas, I have started decorating and making a centerpiece for my dining room table. It as last night that my husband began hammering a nail into the DR wall to help secure a decoration laden with heavy ornaments. He did not consider what was on the other side of the wall which is the memorial shelf in our den that we have of Brandon that displays his sports gear, football helmet from when he was going to play for a semi-pro team, his shoulder pads, his boxing gloves, one of his trophies, a framed letter jacket from high school, etc….I just happened to remember to run in there and hold onto everything and make sure nothing fell. It was then my eyes fell on the black box that held Brandon’s mouth piece for boxing. I opened it and put it to my lips…then I saw in the light the imprint of his teeth. The tears came rushing unannounced. Those teeth that I watched arrive one by one…helped to brush…watched again as they hung loosely waiting to come out….protected with mouth guards in little league football…mouth guards that I remember boiling in water to soften and mold to Brandon’s mouth….that dna that is still present, hidden in a little black box. There is no expression among mankind that adequately describes this kind of pain.
This is the fifth Christmas season without my son. I know that the heartache will follow me to my grave. The waves come crashing down for a time but I don’t drown I just get knocked around. My son once told his sister when he was trying to comfort her about something that she was going through at the time, “It’s like when you are laying down in the water and you see a wave coming at you. It looks really big until you stand up.” There is so much wisdom in those words. I have often wondered why he did not heed his own sage advice….but then, I understand depression more than I ever have. His words would survive him. I guess I am standing up.
There is calm on some days when I am pleasantly surprised that I have an inexplicable peace. I do know that the peace that passes all understanding is exactly what God sends me. I pray for peace to help me through the season of Comfort and Joy. I pray that I will celebrate even more now that my son is with the person in whose birth we celebrate and love. Those days of “ash and torn garments” still want to sneak into my daily life. On any given day or season, I want to pound my chest and shake my fist at the sky. I have come to the conclusion that if I believe and have faith in our Creator…Savior…as I say I do….then I should realize that “to die is gain”…as Paul the Apostle says and that my son has gained an eternity of love and light and a heavenly Father in whose presence he abides. His Christmases are forever. His Christmases are heavenly blue.