For me writing letters has been a source of therapy, saved my sanity, given me a purpose, recorded the passing weeks and most importantly given me a connection to my missing babies. So with Christmas so close, I thought I would use this opportunity to send my darling three a Christmas letter. Although once again, it is a very different Christmas letter to the ones imagined when I was pregnant, but Christmas is still Christmas.
Dear Airley, Freddy and Thomas,
How this year has passed and somehow Christmas has met us. For Airley a third time and my boys, a first.
There are many things that need to be said but first simply Merry Christmas and to my beautiful boys, happy first Christmas. It seems wrong to have to write these words to you over telling you but I was always told words on a page eventually find the recipient. How I hope not only is this but that the everlasting, ocean-crossing limitless magic of Christmas or the power of Santa finds you all, either in some alternative universe where we are all together or wherever you are without me. I hope if it is latter, that someday we get to exchange notes.
Although this is the third still Christmas I have faced, it is the first Christmas I have accepted it’s going to happen, the first time I have embraced it and not hid under a rock for a month. Although the guilt I feel for this is consuming, it simply has been what has been right for us so far. Although December has felt a bit like trying to run before I can walk, but at the back of it all has been ensuring that you all are remembered by the world this year.
Like all in parenting, choosing to face Christmas this year head on has been a learning curve.
It is not a secret how much your lives, my boys, are linked to Christmas; you are Christmas Eve made, my two little Santa’s and Thomas, your middle name is Nicholas because of Christmas. However, I also found out you were there while Christmas decorations still covered the world. The last time I stood in front of my Christmas tree, I was wondering if you were twins. I had such hope, such a belief that by this Christmas, you would be in my arms, 3 months old and ready for your first Christmas. I’d already let my mind wander and I can’t help but let it now.
Would I have been brave enough to take you to your first Christmas market or young parents Christmas party? How overboard would Santa have gone for you on Christmas morning? How cute you would have looked, in a full wardrobe of Christmas puddings, reindeer suits, snowman hats and lying under the Christmas tree for festive light photos. Oh the hell, would I have had the energy? And I wonder what we would have done as a three, to include your sister to make us, our rightful four. There should have been a Christmas card addressed to Mummy and an extra little present under the tree.
That’s the other thing, 3 still Christmases in, it hasn’t got lighter or easier to face nor have I have begun to know what to do or feel.
It’s three Christmases you have missed. This year, for Christmas at two-years-old, how magical it should have been. My Christmas mornings as a small child consisted of sweetie trails, balloons and endless surprises. When I found out you were there, like your brother, I was so desperate to share all of this with you. Every parent dreams of Christmas morning smiles, it’s just for us something I won’t get to see. We could have started elf on the shelf, Christmas Eve boxes and you would have been old enough to start destroying our Christmas tree along with the cat. Another set of photos of you, of us under the tree, visits to Santa, Christmas markets, local light switch ons or tiny people Christmas parties. At two, would you have been old enough for carols by candle lights? What would you have thought of Christmas dinner? Would you have played along with cute Christmas outfits, tutus and sparkly shoes? Another year of matching Christmas Eve PJs, Christmas film day or Christmas crafts. What would be our tradition to leave out for Santa or where would our stockings be hung?
Instead this Christmas will be still, quiet and small. I promise you that I will find joy, light and laughter, and I know this Christmas I am not alone, in facing it without you all. I promise this Christmas morning you will be remembered and you special baubles will shine bright on our tree. This Christmas Eve, there still will be a little something for you all, Christmas stories read and a treat for Santa and of course, Rudolph and on Christmas morning three tiny presents will be under the Christmas tree. I promise I will dig out a Christmas jumper and I will try to in our own little way go big for our first Christmas as a family of 4.
This maybe a different Christmas but Airley, Freddy and Thomas. This Christmas the kindness, the love and the conversation you have inspired. What better Christmas gift could a mother ask for?
I can’t believe my darlings you are not here, that your names hang in feather filled baubles and the dates of your first Christmas mark by a single decoration not a million photos or memories. It should be me in the end hanging on your tree in memorial not you on mine, this is the worst part of living without you. It is against the natural order and the missing never stops. But it is still Christmas and our Christmas and it will be okay.
Happy Christmas my darlings.
You can read Rhia’s other blogs here.
If you’ve been bereaved and would like further support, please find a list of charities and organisations here. The Lullaby Trust’s bereavement support line is open 10am- 5pm and is free to call on 0808 802 6868.