Sunday, December 22, 2013

Family Tree

Just a Note: The following piece was written last Christmas, our first Christmas without Addie. I'm choosing to share it this year because it shows a little bit of the growth that's taken place over the past year. And by growth, I mean adjustment. I've added a few thoughts from 2013 plus lots of pictures. Lots.


If it were any other year, you can bet our tree would've been trimmed within two hours of clearing the Thanksgiving table. If it were any other year we would've had turkey on Thanksgiving, not turkey loaf. Hey, gotta give props to my mom for trying.

If it were any other year.

But it's 2012, our daughter is gone, and decorating the Christmas tree was the last thing I wanted to do.

So I didn't.

At least not that day.

Considering all that's happened, skipping the tree altogether probably would've been acceptable.

But we have a 5 year old and a 3 year old and the magic of Christmas is alive and well in their hearts.

We have a beautiful pre-lit tree sitting in a couple of totes in our basement. But two sections of the pre-lit tree bit the dust last year and I had to string lights up, down, and around its wire branches.

I figured I'd start working on stringing the lights, the baby would need to be fed, or I'd find myself mentally tapped and there we'd sit. Looking at a half-lit tree with no ornaments on Christmas Eve.

So I ordered a new one.

Waited. Waited. Waited for it to come.

And then it did.

It sat in our doorway for a full five minutes before my mom and I decided to tackle it.

It took about five seconds to assemble, which was good.

And bad.

That meant later that night we were going to have to dig out the decorations.  You know how it is with Christmas ornaments. Each one has a story.

Take this one, for example.

My sixth grade teacher gave it to us on our wedding day 14 years ago. Since all this has happened, I've often wondered about God's commentary on that day.

I picture Him saying, "Here's this couple that's so completely happy, ready for life, poised for the future. And they'll have a great life, but they will suffer a loss. The biggest loss."

Or this one.

The first of our Baby's First Christmas ornaments. Inside is information detailing what we did for Addie's first Christmas.

And this one.

Addie made it in pre-school. I can't even imagine the glittery mess that went into making it.

This one.

We picked it up on a trip to the Nebraska-Colorado game in 2005. We cheered. We won. And had an interesting exchange with some fans before the game.

Another Baby's First Christmas. This one is for Isaac and it's double-sided.

And these creations crafted by the littlest of hands.

This is one of my personal favorites because it has Addie's fingerprints all over it.

A new baby means a new ornament.

And another to show our growing family.

One for Baby Landry.

And one from Addie that we'd never ever seen before.

An ornament to let her know she will be forever loved.

And these from so many people who let us know how much they love us.

And how much they love her.

You know how it is with ornaments. Each one tells a story.

This is our story.

And our story continues (even on days when continuing doesn't seem possible).

With creations crafted by the littlest of hands.

And a love big enough to fill all of our hearts.

Until we meet again.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

So About that Mom of the Year Award

Looks like I picked the wrong day to yell at Isaac about his inability to keep track of his gloves (again).


Yes, after listening to his teacher read Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Isaac said:

"It makes me grumpy yells at me."

While I'm glad to see Isaac doing a great job of connecting to his teacher's classroom read-aloud, I'm sure happy the first-graders didn't go much further into analyzing this Christmas classic because I'm sure Isaac might have to come to the conclusion that I am, indeed, the Grinch.

OK, maybe not, but I can certainly kiss the 2013 Mom of the Year Award goodbye.

Not that I was ever in the running anyway.

I'd like to say I never yelled at my kids before all this.

But that would be a lie.

Now it just seems the emotions are right there, fully exposed.

The Good. The bad. And, unfortunately, the ugly.

And on this particular day, with the school bus idling outside our house and chaos ensuing inside our house, Isaac got the how-many-times-do-I-have-to-tell-you-to-put-your-hat-and-your-gloves-in-the-same-spot-so-you-can-find-them-in-the-morning ugly.

This was followed by a dramatic unzipping of the backpack to reveal the missing gloves, so all was well, but ugly nonetheless.


I spend a great deal of the day keeping the emotions in check and holding it all together, all the while lugging around what feels like a 50-pound weight. This weight - this big ball of grief - it doesn't go away, and by the time I go home, I am spent.

And my family gets the worst of me.

It's not fair.

It's just the way that it is.

I am hurting.

We are hurting.

And while my little guy may not carry the weight all day long like I do, he does feel it.

Just look at the other half of that picture.

It makes me feel happy when Addie is back.

I can't bring Addie back (oh how I wish that I could), but I can try to give more of my best.