Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Without

I don't remember our first Christmas without my mother and baby brother.

We had had some time - nearly three months -- to settle into our "after" lives.  I've often wondered how the adults pulled it off.  I think they must have struggled mightily to create an ordinary Christmas.  They probably all cried all day, probably alone, in separate bathrooms. 

I think we were pretty well healed, physically, my brother and I.  I had been back in my second-grade classroom for weeks.  My brother, at four, was too young for school, but my grandmother took care of him all day.

There is one set of pictures that I know of, although they might have been from the next year.  My second-grade teacher had made enormous paper-mache snowman heads for some school event, and she gave them to us, so there is a picture of the two of us in our living room, wearing those heads.

That's it.  That's what I recall, and I don't even know whether it's a memory from the right year.

I wish that someone in my family had been like Robbie Parker, the father who spoke so eloquently of his little daughter.  He wanted the world to know how she sparkled.  How she sparkles.

I wish that someone had told stories like that about my mother and brother.  I get why they didn't.  When Josh died, we had to rely entirely upon the words of others.  Ours were silenced by the horror of our new "after."

If I could say anything at all to the Sandy Hook families, it would be:  Tell those stories. 

Let those children and those women sparkle.


  1. For some, it may be too painful to tell or hear the stories right away. I agree that completely stuffing the grief is not good, either... But for some, that is just their way. I remember having a short conversation about this with my Dad when my sister died. He told me something to the effect that he did not, could not, cry and grieve openly. That was not how he was wired. Every heart grieves in its own way. God grant us the wisdom to understand and honor this.

    1. I would guess that that is true of my own father as well. And all the other Puritans in my family. And the members of my own immediate family are more reticent than I am -- which I am aware may well be because I take up so much space.

      But I would also say that, especially where young children concerned, tremendous damage can be done if the stories are left to languish.

  2. Yes, Tell the stories. Together. With laughter and tears. <3

  3. Another reason why I'm so grateful for the Internet, and technology, and the advent of the Blog. Where so many stories are told. Collected. Available.

  4. This is so true. Here's a quote from Peter Pan (which breaks my heart):

    Peter Pan: Forget them, Wendy. Forget them all. Come with me where you'll never, never have to worry about grown up things again.

    Wendy: Never is an awfully long time. You won't forget me, will you?

    Peter: Me? Forget? Never.

    Wendy: Will you ever come back?

    Peter: To hear stories ....about me......"

  5. I remember being desperate to hear stories about him, and simultaneously furious inside that now he was only a story...a memory. So very cruel and intolerable. Death is a thief who takes everything precious, slashing as he goes. Jesus buys back all the broken pieces for top dollar and repairs them to give them back. Our only hope.