I remember visiting your special place last Christmas. I remember the heaviness that weighed down on my chest and I have come to realise over this year that this is the feeling of missing you.
I remember families who had ventured to the same woods walking by where we stood, probably wondering to themselves why we were crying next to a tree. Maybe it will be easier next year? I had told myself. Maybe next Christmas it won’t hurt as much?
Turns out, it does.
On Christmas Eve this year, it rained. The ground was slippery as we walked to your tree and I was conscious of each step I took as, along with a heavy chest, I also had your little sister strapped to it. I told myself that once your sibling was here, we would all come and visit you together. I also told myself that once your sibling was here, maybe it would somehow feel easier to do so.
But nothing replaces you. Nothing stops me from missing you. From yearning for you. From loving you.
I watched your Daddy walk a few paces away, his hand to his face and I felt the pinch in my throat as I began to join him in his grief.
“I think I can still see some of Evalyn’s star dust,” Ieuan said as he examined the ground, forcing me to regain some composure, “Do you think it is, Mum?”
“Errrrrr. Maybe? I’m not sure.”
Ieuan frowned. “Is it Christmas in Heaven?”
“I believe it is.”
“Do they have snow, then? Because you said that it is always sunny in Heaven.”
“Heaven is whatever you want it to be,” I told him, “We want it to always be warm and happy for Evalyn. But I’m sure she could make it snow if she wanted it to.”
With Ieuan’s distraction, I managed to keep my tears in for you until we started to walk back to the car and my mind began to feel sad that I couldn’t give you a present this year. Or the year after, or all of the years to come. I will never see your excitement on Christmas Day or feel you jumping onto our bed in the early hours all eager to open your stocking. I will never get to watch you playing with toys or take you to carol concerts. I will never get to watch you in your nativity play or hear you singing along to Christmas songs on the radio. I will never be able to take you to visit Santa.
So many “I will never’s”.
Here is what I was able to do for you this Christmas.
I was able to light your Advent candle each day, never forgetting a single one. I was able to hang your baubles on the Christmas tree and hum you a Christmas tune as I did so (last year you only had one but this year you seem to have accumulated more). I was able to take pleasure when I opened a Christmas card that also had your name written inside or a reference to you somehow. Ieuan had even bought you your own Christmas present from his school “Present Buying Day.” It was a tiny little unicorn that is now in yours and Iola’s room.
During Christmas lunch, my mum lit a pink candle and placed it on the table where it remained burning for the remainder of the day. I wore your ashes neclace and found myself gently holding it in my hands throughout the day. I woke up and you were my first thought as I whispered to you, Merry Christmas. I went to bed and you were my last thought when I whispered Goodnight. And you were so many of my thoughts inbetween.
It turns out that another Christmas without you was just as hard as the first. But of course it would be.
Because you’re not here.
People say that Christmas is a time for family and for children. But I will spend every Christmas with a missing piece in my family because you can’t be with us. No parent ever wants to spend their Christmas without their child.
“Do you think Evalyn will have a nice Christmas in Heaven?” Ieuan asked me as we stood next to your tree. “I think she will and she’ll gets lots of presents.”
I hope Ieuan was right, Evalyn. I really hope he was right.
Love you forever,