Friday, December 21, 2012

Amazing Boys and Christmas Love

I just need to take a minute and talk about my amazing boys, and our trip to see Santa this afternoon.

Every year since Colton was born, I have gone to get the boys' pics with Santa. Even last year, as hard as it was, we got it done. 

This year, I have been dreading it more than last year. Last year, just weeks after Brynn's death, we were in a total fog. Robots just moving from one day to the next. This year, the fog has lifted slightly, and what remains is the permanence of our situation without Brynna.

I summed up the energy and courage today to just go, with the boys in hand, and brave the incredibly long line, knowing that if I didn't, next year I would really regret not having this year's picture in the lineup of the past nine years.

So we went.

And the line stretched all the way from Macy's (where you see Santa), down the mall to Sears. I think all together we waited close to 2 hours.

But I have the most amazing boys!

They sat, stood, and crouched quietly and patiently the entire time. I had thought ahead and did bring my ipad and old iphone that they took turns playing, but there were no fights and no whining. They did not wander or run off even once, and many other parents in line commented how well behaved they were.

They are amazing.

Before we left home, we had decided together that, in the picture, the boys would hold the pink frog that Steven had given me a while back, in honor of their sister.

So for nearly 2 hours, I carried a 7 lb 11 oz pink, stuffed frog in line, while all around me little girls danced and twirled in their Christmas dresses. Some very close to the age that Brynn would be.

Everything about this process is hard.

When we got up to the front of the line, Santa's assistant asked how many groupings we would be wanting for the pictures. I was trying (and failing) not to tear up and I said it would be the boys and they would be holding the frog for their sister that passed away.

I'm not sure when she got the message passed on down the "picture line", but the photographer took extra special care getting everyone, including Brynn's frog into place, and Santa was so very gentle and kind. While the boys talked to Santa and told him their wishes, the photographer put his hand on my shoulder.

I cried.

She is supposed to be here. She is supposed to be in the picture with her wonderful, compassionate brothers.

When the boys were done, they stood up from Santa's lap, and then Santa stood up too. He said to me, "I really want to give you a hug." Then he wrapped me up in the warmest, safest, sweetest hug I have had in a very long time. I felt like a little girl again, wrapped up in the magic of Christmas. He said in my ear, "I will be saying a very special prayer for you tonight. Please know your family, including your daughter are now in my heart." I told him, through my tears, how thankful I was for his tenderness and that her name is Brynna, and he said he would remember her this holiday season.

Then, he wiped his eyes and wished us a Merry Christmas.

When we went to pay for our pictures, the top of our invoice said, "On Steve." We did not have to pay a dime.

I don't know if Santa is going by "Steve" in his day to day life, or if maybe the photographer's name is Steve, but either way our "sweet, broken, trying so hard to heal" family was shown true Christmas love today.

Monday, December 17, 2012


8 more days til Christmas.  What?  Wasn’t it just her birthday? Where did Halloween and Thanksgiving go?  We’ve already had our early Clancy Family Christmas in Seattle?  I remember bits of all these things, and if I put my mind to it, I can concentrate and come up with detailed memories, but seriously…
Time continues to confuse the hell out of me.
The day after Christmas will be 14 months since her birthday…
14 months we will have been without her.  14 months we will have been among the living dead; our fellow zombies that are somehow walking through this life without their children here to hold our hands.
Time ceases to mean anything, and yet it means everything.  A moment can stretch to a day, hours into months…time is no longer a linear, progressive thing.  I am no longer in a hurry to “get anywhere,” nor do I find myself under any pressure to “do anything” within a specified amount of time.  When you are facing a lifetime without your child, the sense of urgency about other things just disappears. 
And yet, I am tied to time.  Every month has a 26th and every month has a 1st.  Every holiday in every month of every year marks another memory absent of her presence.  When the clock hits 10:15, I think of her (her due date), 10:26, I think of her (her birthday).  At 1:11, I see 11/1 (the day she died). 
Time means nothing, and yet it defines everything.
“Time heals,” “time flies,” “time is precious,” “don’t waste your time”….
I miss my daughter.  I miss her all the time.

The Tree.

December 17, 2012

Dear Brynna,
My sweet, sweet girl, how much we miss you!
Last night Daddy and the boys and I decorated the Christmas tree.  It took me quite a while to get all the lights on, doing as I learned from your Grandma Betty Ann, wrapping each branch and making every effort to hide the cords.  I think the tree ended up taking 12 or 13 strands of lights!  I had to send Daddy out twice to the store to buy more.  :o)
Your brothers waited patiently for the lights to be done so that they could help put the ornaments on.  When it was time, they did such a wonderful job.  Aidan unwrapped the little angel ornament we got last year to remember you, and took care to hang it near some lights, making sure it would sparkle.  Eventually, I came across the Sleeping Beauty ornament your Auntie Andrea got for you at Downtown Disney last May.  Aidan said, “Be sure to hang it high mom, because Brynna is really important.”  He loves you so very much.  All your brothers love you so very much.

I cried to myself a little.  I wanted so badly for you to be there with us, grabbing at the ornaments that we inadvertently hung too low.  But the truth is, we can hang the ornaments wherever we want, because you will not be grabbing at them.  This little truth breaks me.  It’s not supposed to be this way…
When all the ornaments were hung, we took a step back and admired our work. 
The tree is beautiful.

After it was done, the boys decided to take part in an impromptu dance party to Christmas music playing on the TV.  Daddy got some of it on camera, and we all had a good laugh.  They are so silly!
Such is our life.
One moment, there are tears, sadness, and longing and then, there right next to all of the heartache, comes happiness, silliness and spontaneity.
A constant state of bittersweet is my existence.  Joyful in being a mother to four beautiful children, but at the same time brokenhearted because one of them is not here with me.  Not in the way I would like, anyway.  Trying, to the best of my ability, to soak up the good that life has to offer and remain in the moment, but at the same time knowing life is not always good.  Knowing to my core that life is unpredictable and unfair and, at times, devastating. 
It is such a polarized, often very hard to reconcile, existence.  But, in rising each day, I face my new reality.  I acknowledge that my life will never be the same, and that is okay.  Because if it were the same, that would mean you would not have existed.  I am different for having had you Brynn.  I am more compassionate, aware, loving, and “in the moment” for having known you.  The loss of you has broken me in so many ways, but you my sweet girl, you are mending me.
I love you, Brynna.  More than you will ever know.  I love you so, so much.