Every year, the weekend of Thanksgiving, the trees begin to come out and the lights are sparkling! It’s the beginning of the Christmas season! Most everyone is excited to put up the tree and decorate for the holidays. I was that person…the person who’s tree went up on Thanksgiving weekend NO MATTER WHAT! Now I can barely stand the thought of dragging out the decorations, much less looking at them for over a month. It’s a constant reminder of what’s to come.
December 1994, I was 21 years old. I was happily married to my high school sweetheart. We had a beautiful baby boy who would be two years old in February. We were young, in love, and living the American dream! I stayed home with our baby and he worked a full time job. He was also an amateur boxer with dreams to attend the Olympics. We were so innocent, so trusting of life, so content…but that all changed quickly and suddenly on December 26, 1994.
(The day after our son was born)
We had a great Christmas! Our son was so excited about the tree, lights, and presents! He was able to understand the concept of Santa and presents, although Santa was not his favorite person! We had a great Christmas with family and friends.
(My son’s Christmas picture)
The day after Christmas, my husband went hunting with his brother. Little did I know, our morning good-bye kiss would be the last time our lips would touch.
Me and my son were busy that day. We put our gifts away, cleaned out the closets, and my son happily informed me “I colored….on the wall!” That meant mommy had to scrub the ink off the wall before daddy got home to see his sons artwork!
Then the call came…just after lunch…
My mother-in-law called to tell me there had been an accident. I panicked! All I could think of was my husband has been shot in the woods. The next few hours were a blur. My in-laws picked me and my son up and we headed to the hospital. I remember clearly my mother-in-law saying the Lord’s Prayer over and over. I prayed in silence while my son fell asleep. It seemed like the hospital was hours away.
When we arrived, a doctor came out to meet with us. I took one look at his face and I knew….NO, NO, NO! Please just stop talking! I didn’t want to hear the words but my mind wouldn’t allow me to block out the sound! “Your husband was killed in a car accident…we did everything we could do to save him.”
The next five days were filled with the most pain I’ve ever felt in all my life. I cried, I screamed, I begged…I just wanted it to be December 25th again so I could say “Please don’t go hunting tomorrow!” No matter what I did, the days kept passing by and my husband would never walk back through our door again. I couldn’t imagine how I was supposed to go on without the love of my life. How was I supposed to tell my son he would never see his father again? How would we survive without him?
Five days after his death, I got my answer. I woke up and realized I was late. Mother nature had not visited since my husbands death. I took a test…I stood in shock, staring blankly at that little + sign…we were pregnant! Oh my God….I’m pregnant! We are having another baby! Then the reality hit…I am having another baby. My husband would not be able to experience the joy of another child with me.
The news spread quickly. For the first time in days, life once again seemed possible. God had granted me a miracle to help me and my son through this tragedy. We now had something to look forward to, instead of always wanting to look back.
8 months after my husbands death, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy, vibrant baby girl! She looked just like her daddy. Over the years I’ve realized she acts just like her daddy. She brought happiness and hope back to a family that was broken. Our one last gift from her daddy.
Over the years, Christmas has become easier to cope with. When the lights come out, the dread is still there, but the pain is shadowed by the happiness and love that fills our home. I was not only blessed with 3 more children, but I was also lucky to maintain a wonderful relationship with my first husbands family. My 3 younger children are blessed with an extra set of grandparents who love them like they are their own. I would like to think my husband is smiling down on us, happy that we all stuck together through the rough times!
There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of my first husband. I see him in our kids, I feel him in my heart. I know we have a special guardian angel looking out for us. I also know he is proud of the family he left behind. In spite of the darkness that surrounds the Christmas Holidays for us, we find a way to shine a light for the kids. Just like the sun will continue to rise and set, Christmas will continue to come and go. The memories we choose to associate with it is a choice we make for ourselves!