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

Observing Life

From my journal dated December 11, 2002:

Sunday was a really tough day for us. Maybe it’s because Christmas is fast approaching – our first Christmas without Jason.

Went to church; sat up in the balcony. Neither of us knows where we belong right now. It just feels like we don’t fit anywhere. I feel like I’m just observing – observing church, observing activities, observing life. Sometimes I feel very detached.

Joe and I talked some about this whole “not knowing where we belong” thing when we got home and what to do for Christmas. Joe was just so sad today. He cried and cried. He’s a broken-hearted daddy.

I don’t know how we’re going to stand celebrating Christmas this year without Jason. It hurts so much just to think about it.

He’s just on vacation, isn’t he?

From my journal dated July 18, 2002:

I passed by the crash site earlier today, and they have those black rubber things across the road to count traffic. The last time I talked to the Sheriff’s Office, the traffic count and DNA results were the only things they were waiting on. So, it must be close to going to the Prosecutor’s Office.

I don’t think people realize that all of us have to pass by the crash site and cemetery…sometimes multiple times a day. Jenna probably goes by there more than any of us because it’s the closest route home from school and work.

I can’t help myself but look at either the cross at the crash site or toward the grave when I go by the cemetery…not that it makes it any more real. Sometimes I’m just so aware that my brain refuses to accept that he’s gone. It’s like Jason’s on vacation or at school, and I’m expecting him home soon. And then there are times when I just sit and sob because I’m so sad I just can’t bear it.

It’s just not fair

From my journal dated July17, 2002:

I went for a long walk with Suzanne* yesterday. She said she had wanted to get together, but decided to wait a while since it looked like we had so many people here for us right after Jason died. Maybe a lot of people thought the same thing…and yet we were almost all alone.

I’m trying to have more grace for those who are calling and are at least trying to do something now. God, give me grace!! Help me! It’s such an effort for me to “chat” and trust them that they really care. Some of them, like Suzanne, I can tell are being real about it. Some, I think, just couldn’t do anything. There are two sides to every coin. I know I only see ours. Maybe the flip side would surprise me. Maybe my side would really surprise a lot of people!

I did have a good time walking with Suzanne. She wants to walk regularly, she said, get back in shape…although she’s certainly in better shape than I am! I’m so out of shape…plus I just don’t feel very good. No energy, sore throat, my lungs hurt, pain in my chest.

We talked a bit about Jason and the accident. Suzanne thinks that Jason had done what he was supposed to do here on earth and had done it well, so God took him home. She said she finds comfort in that. She asked me if I thought the aid unit got there fast enough and if they got them to a hospital to try to save them.

I can’t think about Jason being hit like that. He physically took the whole brunt of a car going twice the speed limit. It hit squarely on the driver side door. My precious boy. It’s just not far.

I don’t know the answers to any of the “why’s.” All I have is questions…and pain…and sadness. There’s not much else to me right now.

Seeing through a dark glass

From my journal dated May 13, 2002:

I’m so tired of being alone. I don’t have any friends. How can I have no friends? My family is so far away. The emptiness of Jason being gone seeps so deep inside me I don’t know where it begins or ends.

Jenna wants to work more…and that’s okay. It leaves me alone more, but that’s not her responsibility. She needs to be busy and have a life. She will move on into her own life.

My life has been so intertwined with my kids. I was looking forward to Jenna launching into her own life. And now I dread it. I was looking forward to Jason’s graduation, marriage, kids. And now I feel so robbed. The future looks so bleak for me. I just can’t see past all this pain to a future of anything else besides emptiness, loneliness and pain.

I just don’t know what to do with myself any more. No one’s here to help me! I feel like this sorrow is going to swallow me – drown me – and there’s no one to throw me a line. Everyone is too busy with their own lives to help me stay afloat. The hours are so long and nothing interests me – movies, TV, homework, cooking. Nothing seems to be of any value.

I know Jason is with God. He’s standing before God and praising Him. I want to please God, and I know Jason is cheering us on. The Bible talks about “a great cloud of witnesses” cheering us on…and I know Jason is right up at the front cheering the loudest. My pride and joy – oh, how my heart breaks not to have him here. He sees a clear picture now, but mine is so dark.

I’m so tired…and tired of being alone…and tired of being so sad it’s all I can do to keep from crying. My mouth is raw where I keep biting the inside of my cheeks to keep from crying all the time…I don’t want to make people even more uncomfortable or no one will ever want to be around me. No one has been here to hold me, to help me. God, where are you? Where is the good in all this? Where are your people?  Are they forgetting Jason already? How can all these people not care? How can all these people not be here for us?

I don’t understand. I just can’t see. It’s just such a long, lonely walk.

Oh, my precious boy

From my journal dated May 5, 2002:

Oh, my precious boy,

Joe, Jason and Jenna

It seems like you should walk in the house any minute. I miss you so much! We’re just not the same without you.

We went to Jared’s Spring concert today, and it just seemed like you should be there, too, cheering him on. You should have been there talking to him after the concert congratulating him on a job well done, going to dinner with us. You should be doing all those things with us.

It just doesn’t seem real. I look at pictures, and your love and life look back at me. So full of love and life…you just shouldn’t be gone.

I still look down the driveway every day to see if you’re home, if your car is sitting there. It’s automatic…you’re supposed to be coming home. It’s so empty without you..and it’s going to feel that way for a very long time.

I was in the grocery store yesterday – whenever I’m shopping I subconsciously think of what I need to get for my family. And, as I passed by the apples, my very first thought was whether I needed to get more apples for you. I had to just stand there and concentrate on not falling apart on the spot. Such a small thing…such a big hurt.

Jenna doesn’t want to go to church with us any more. She says it’s too painful to go there – it’s where we always went together…and it’s where your memorial service was. Sunday was always our family time – church together, out to dinner, enjoying each other’s company, doing something fun. I understand how hard it is for her.

Going to church is so hard for me, too. Every time I walk into the sanctuary, I look up at the big screen and envision your picture from the memorial service there. I hear people joyously singing and clapping…and it feels like another world to me. I picture you the Sunday before the accident, singing with your hands lifted to God. But you’re not here any more.

How I wish you were here!! My heart cries out for you to be here. We miss you so.

I love you with my whole heart. My precious boy; my beautiful, handsome boy. Beautiful – inside and out. Beautiful blue eyes. Great hugs.

You deserve to have a life.

How can you be gone? I just can’t comprehend it.

Some good days, some bad days

From my journal dated May 2, 2002:

I just hate my life right now. I hate how I am…I’m so sad.

No one wants to be around me – not even Jenna or Eric. I don’t blame them. I feel like this ugly, sad lump. Who would want to be around that? I’m so lonely, but I don’t think being around people would help. I don’t know of anything that’s going to help. I don’t even feel like I can sit up straight sometimes. I don’t really tell people how I’m doing. They don’t want to hear it, so I just make some inane comment like, “Some good days, some bad days.”

Sometimes I’m just so full of pain I don’t know how to bear it. Sometimes I just want to take a whole bottle of pills or something just so the pain will stop. I know that doesn’t make any sense – stupid thing to do. I would never do that to my family. I just feel so alone, so sad.

There are things I could/should do around here, but nothing holds any interest for me. I feel like I’m just putting in hours until I can take a sleeping pill and zonk out again…so I don’t have to feel anything any more.

I gave birth to all three of them – Eric, Jason and Jenna. They are all so much a part of me, so deeply in my heart. Unless you’re a mother, you don’t realize that you NEVER stop hoping for or hurting for or loving your kids. My life has been invested in them. So many conscious decisions based on them! And now what do I do?