This will be our tenth Christmas without J.T. here to open presents with us. That first year, I shopped for him anyway. I couldn’t stand the fact he wasn’t going to be there, so I pretended he was going to come home and would need his presents. Delusional? No. Just grieving.
I had connection with him by this time, but it wasn’t as clear as it is now. I’m sure he told me to let it go, but I either couldn’t hear it, or wouldn’t hear it. I made sure I got gifts that his sister and brother would like, so at least someone would be able to play with the toys. I also bought so many presents for my other children, in hopes to make up for the huge hole in our family, that they actually got bored opening them after a while. That’s quite an accomplishment, isn’t it?
The next year, I vowed to not go overboard. I still got J.T. a few things his brother and sister would like. What was I trying to prove, though? That he was still there? That my love for him hadn’t faded? That I thought he would be missing Christmas? All of the above, I suppose.
The third year, I realized purchasing presents was a bit ridiculous, so I filled his stocking with little goodies instead, again, knowing his siblings would get the goods, for which they were happy…I think. I never did ask them how they felt about it. For all I knew, it opened the wound again. Kids are so resilient and heal so much more quickly than we do with these things, especially at five and three years old. To think that J.T. has been gone longer than they have been alive is so strange, but at the same time, I’m glad for them that their pain has subsided over the years.
I have filled J.T.’s stocking for years now, with little trinkets he would like and, of course, candy. At this point with clear connection with my son, he’s telling me to let it go, and I can hear him very clearly. He says, “Why are you spending money on me, Mom? It’s okay to not fill my stocking now. You know where I am, and you know I’m not going anywhere. Let’s give this tradition a rest.”
All of these thoughts rush through my mind as I think about the possibility of not shopping for him. I knew I had been fooling myself into thinking this was really for his siblings so they would feel closer to him this time of year, and it was for me to feel he was included. But what was this really about?
When you lose a child, guilt becomes a normal feeling. I mean, how could we have allowed this to happen? We should have saved our child, and we didn’t. Now, if I let go of this, does it mean I don’t love him, or will forget about him?
The answer is no. First of all, we are not responsible for our children’s passing. J.T. tells me no one leaves unless it is their time, and if they don’t leave one way, they will find another way. We as parents do not have the power or authority to stop that. Secondly, will I ever forget my son or stop loving him? NO! He’s with me every moment, and we share a bond that can never be severed. Love is energy, and energy can never be destroyed…it just changes form.
Yes, we have had to work at this relationship from where he is now, but it will never change the parent-child connection. I will always love him and always remember who he is.
So this year, per J.T.’s request, I am not filling his stocking. And so far, I’m feeling okay about it.
If you have been doing something similar for your child or loved one, I invite you to relieve yourself of the guilt and obligation this year. It doesn’t mean they won’t be with you. In fact, quite the opposite! Our loved ones make this time of year special for us in any way they can. Believe the magic of the season applies to them, too!
J.T. and I are sending you love and peaceful wishes for the upcoming holiday season.
Namaste and Many Blessings!