Christmas Season – Not the “Same as Always” This Year

From my journal dated December 11, 2002:

On Sunday, Joe and I took Brandy [the dog] for a walk on the Woodinville Slough Trail. We were so sad and needed to get some fresh air. I think the Christmas season is affecting us so much more than we ever thought.

After our walk, we stopped and purchased a Christmas tree from the lot at Mary Sutton’s church. Came home, put it up, and started decorating it. Joe put on the lights, as he’s always done. But he just couldn’t handle doing any more than that. Eric and Jenna weren’t home, either, so I had to do the rest all by myself. It was so hard.

Christmas 2001

Debra* had asked Eric to fix a guitar for her daughter’s birthday. She came up to our house that afternoon to pick it up. We have known Debra and her family for many years; we considered them our extended family – family by choice instead of birth. We chose to make them our family. I feel like Jason’s death changed all that.

There I sat in the middle of the family room floor, surrounded by boxes, tissue paper, and ornaments waiting to be hung on the tree. I was such a mess. I was just drowning. I felt stuck, unable to do anything else. I would have given nearly anything to have someone help me. I guess I just had a hope in my heart that Debra would take time to sit down and help me. I would have loved some help right then. It would have made such a difference.

But she couldn’t do it…wouldn’t do it. I don’t know which. She probably had some place else she was headed. It was like she couldn’t wait to get the guitar from Eric and get out of our house. She barely even talked to me.

We always went as a family to pick out our Christmas tree, and then we would put on Christmas music and start to decorate the house and tree. Joe always put on the lights first. Then I would unwrap the ornaments, and each person would put his or her special ornaments on the tree. Sometimes a story starting with “I remember when…” would accompany the ornament.  Jason always put the angel on the top as soon as he got tall enough to reach.

We loved our Christmas traditions: Going to look at Christmas lights and rating them by “stars”; Chinese food on Christmas Eve; Christmas Eve candlelight service; freshly-made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning; Joe reading the Christmas story to us; taking turns opening presents; Christmas dinner filled with goof food, family, laughter. Now what do we do?

Nothing is the same. Traditions now emphasize Jason’s absence. How can we just go through the same traditions this year? What are we supposed to do instead? I can’t just throw them all away. We can’t just do nothing. That seems wrong, too.

Christmas 1999

It took me a long time to decorate the tree. I absolutely fell apart when I pulled Jason’s stocking out of the box. How can he be gone??!!?? It’s just not right!! It’s all so very wrong!! This hurts!!! My heart hurts!! How do we celebrate Christmas without our boy??

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

Things Will Never Be the Same

From my journal dated December 1, 2002:

Joe put up the Christmas lights on the deck this morning. I know he’s having such a hard time with Christmas approaching. He is such an awesome man. I love him so much.

We went out to breakfast after church today. Joe started talking about Jason and how he feels. It was a hard place to talk about such things, because I was trying so hard not to cry in such a public place.

He said he misses his family so much. He also said that some days all he can think about how Jason is gone and how part of our family is missing. Some of the things he said are similar to how I have felt, that nothing is the same.

Things will never be the same. It’s just so hard. Christmas will never be the same.

Father’s Day

From my journal dated June 16, 2002:

Another “first.” I hate these “firsts.” They’re not like the fun ones – first baby steps, first house, first date, first to graduate. It doesn’t seem like there are any fun firsts left – they all seem painful.

After church, we went out to breakfast with Jenna. After she and Eric went to work, Joe called John MacFarlane to see if they wanted to go see a movie with us. Janice was out of town, but John met us for an early show.

You know, it’s a small thing for him to go to a movie with us. We didn’t really do anything else but go to a movie together, but it’s so nice to have someone do something with us! It just makes the day not seem so long!

We ran into Tom Sutton there, too. He gave me the biggest hug and asked about Jason getting his diploma from the college. It was nice to be around someone who doesn’t shy away from us or from talking about Jason.

Mother’s Day

From my journal dated May 13, 2002:

Yesterday was Mother’s Day…another “first” without Jason in a year full of “firsts” without our precious boy.

Joe got up early, went to the store, got turnovers and flowers, and fixed breakfast for me. I came to sit down for breakfast and just started to cry. I miss my boy so much. My poor hubby…he tried so hard, and I just fell apart.

I started thinking about the Mother’s Day when it seemed like no one had actually planned ahead to do anything to “celebrate me” and how I struggled to not let it bother me. I was so selfish! I can’t stand to think how selfish I was! I wouldn’t care if anyone did anything now if I could only have Jason back…just to be together. Just to be together, knowing our kids are safe and happy, would be enough.