Merry Christmas

Updated: Dec 27, 2018

I hope that everyone reading this had a very Merry Christmas filled with family, friends, love, and laughter! As we were preparing for Christmas I was reminded by a friend that I had not blogged in several weeks, and it was time. She was right! So now that all of the presents are put away and the house is clean I finally had a quiet moment to reflect and share what the past two Christmas' have been like for our family.

First of all we had a wonderful Christmas! Santa brought Lushon and Whitley what they asked for, within reason, and Will got to be home. The Arnett Kids Christmas Program was fantastic, Lushon played the part of The Paperboy and Toy sang. Most of our friends were able to make it over for our Friends Christmas/Game Night which is always full of laughter, good food, and shenanigans. We were also able to spend time with each of our families and continue our family tradition of Christmas Eve Dinner, baking cookies for Santa, and watching National Lampoons Christmas Vacation. For the past two Christmas' we have incorporated an activity to do in Hayden's honor to our Christmas celebration. Last year we wrote messages on balloons and released them like we did at his Memorial Service, and this year we wrote messages on Chinese Lanterns and released them on Christmas Eve. It's a physical way for us to send messages to heaven which we find very comforting. When I released my lantern the wind picked up, or Hayden showed his presence, and blew it into our large maple tree in the front yard. It was comical, and totally something he would do to me just to be ornery. We all watched it burn and laughed and told stories about our little pyromaniac. Hayden was always mesmerized by fire. I loved every second of it! All of the other lanterns flew off into the distance just like intended. It was magical!

Now to do a little soul bearing... Christmas has always been a very special time of year for me. Right before Christmas 2001 I found out I was pregnant with Hayden. I was barely eighteen years old and scared to death, but I was also so excited to become a mother. The following Christmas I had experienced the life changing moments of being a mother for six months and could truly appreciate why we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus. I could appreciate what God, Mary, and Joseph felt on the sacred night that he was born and what the gift of his life means for all of us. As my family has grown and evolved Christmas has always been a time of year that has been good for me to reflect and be grateful for all of the blessings that God has provided.

Last year at Christmas finding anything to celebrate seemed so unattainable. My kid was dead. The only thing I wanted for Christmas was to wake up. To wake up from the fog of grief and him magically be asleep in his room or walk through the door, but I knew that wasn't going to happen. After weeks of trying to find something, anything, to bring a little bit of life and joy into our home for all of us I bought Hayden's dream dog. A blue male French Bulldog that just so happened to be born the day before Hayden went to be with Jesus. His name is Fenway. (What else would Red Sox fans name a dog after all?) Fenway quickly stole all of our hearts and has this uncanny sense of knowing just when each of us needs a little extra love and snuggles. One of the best purchases of my life!!

For the past several weeks I have been reflecting on my grief and what all has taken place in the last year. For the first 365 days after loosing Hayden everyone would tell me and I would tell myself, "If you can just make it through all of the firsts (Birthdays, Holidays, Anniversary) you will survive.". But what then?? No one tells you that for the first year you are in shock and it feels like an out of body experience. Yes, for an entire year you walk around in a fog of denial and asking yourself repeatedly, "How in the hell is this my life?". No one tells you that. So as the holiday season quickly approached this year I began to realize this was the one I had to survive. This was going to be harder than the previous year, that I just knew then was going to be my toughest obstacle. Why? Because last year we were numb. Because last year all of us where just in survival mode. This year we were actually going to feel the empty chair, the gifts not bought, the missing voice of laughter in the room... it's real. He's not coming home. When I put up my tree this year, which Hayden always obnoxiously helped me do, I thought to myself I could do this fifty or sixty more times without him. That's a tough realization for a Mother. To think about going to holiday functions without my child is almost debilitating. You are trapped inside your grief and your worst nightmare is that everyone around you doesn't miss him or ache for his presence like you do. But you are forced by design to be social, to be around people, and to make new memories which is a blessing and a curse. We were at a family function this past weekend were a comment was made about the number of grandkids in the family. There were four grandchildren physically present, Hayden would be the fifth, and the comment was made that you don't need anymore grandkids "you already have four.". I was crushed. I went to the bathroom and cried by myself for several minutes, then I stuffed my grief inside of it's heavy box I carry on my back, fixed my eye makeup, and moved forward because that is the only choice I have. These moments occur often. Am I too sensitive? Yes, I am. (I have earned it.) Did that person realize that what they had said had caused me pain? Probably not. Do they realize that to a grieving mother it leaves the impression that to you my child's existence in this world is gone, because his physical presence is not here? Probably not. They are just ignorant to our loss and the courage that it physically takes to breathe. But for every ignorant person there are ten that are not, the ones that "get it". I thank God every day that he has put so many people in my life that "get it" and tell myself that the people that are ignorant are put in my path so that I can fully appreciate the people that "get it" with all of the wonder that they deserve. A very special young lady came up to me at the little peoples Christmas Program and said, "Lushon was amazing! Every time he would read one of his lines, (which were jokes) he looked and sounded just like Hayden. It made me so happy!". She got it! Because I sat in my seat all night and watched Lushon with pride because I could see that little piece of Hayden's personality coming out in his baby brother. Seeing the mixture of the two of them in one little body reminds me that I will always have a little piece of Hayden living in this house.

So this year I hope that each of you reading this that have someone in their life that has lost a child will always remember to speak that child's name, be mindful of your words, and have patience with them. Be the person that get's it. Remember that they are fighting battles that you know nothing about and will continue to do so their entire life.



To my little people... Spending another Christmas here on earth with you was my absolute pleasure. You two, are two out of three of my favorite human beings to ever have graced this world with your presence. I will forever be grateful for the anchor that the two of you have been for your father and I after everything we have been through as a family. I love you more than words could ever express. Merry Christmas!


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