Sarah Jane's first Christmas was about as good as it could have been. We played our traditional song, "Baby's First Christmas" by Connie Francis that we played for all the boys. She slept through the present opening, but we fussed over her when she woke up. My parents came over for our traditional brunch. Christmas eve we spent with Tyler and Elizabeth and their kids at Chick fil a and then service at their church. We then came back to Castleton for the 9:00 service. Keith and I were pretty emotional Christmas Eve, but we got through Christmas pretty well. Every day has hard moments and we miss Luke in so many ways. Christmas did not seem much different than any other day right now. I miss him when I grocery shop, do laundry, put the kids in the car, make dinner....... Christmas was just another thing to do without Luke. Keith and I do feel strongly that the holidays need to remain happy for the sake of our other kids. I never want them to feel that they are not worth joy and excitement. We are starting some new traditions to remember Luke. We have a palm tree Christmas tree up and have started putting special ornaments up for Luke that represent his life. I got the kids a book from Luke that is not about loss especially, but fits beautifully our situation. Making a Snowman by Allison McGhee. I think that we will read it every year. We were flooded by memories of the 8 Christmas seasons we had with Luke. He had pneumonia for two different years, was in the hospital for yet another one, last year we surprised them with the house.... he could unwrap a present faster than the speed of light! I almost bought him a few things this year, but decided not to. We have made a donation to both the Ronald McDonald house in St. Louis and the one inside Riley in his memory.
I am back at work (again) and am doing much better than when I came back in November. I am still struggling with some nightmares and some nausea. I feel anxious a lot but I know all of these things are just part of grieving. It often feels like someone is sitting on my chest. It has been wonderful to have the boys home from school this past week. We have been staying at home a lot which the kids have really enjoyed. I think they were really ready for a break. I know how much energy it takes for me to be a part of the world right now- they have to feel that way too sometimes.
We rang in the new year with dear friends and some tears. Happy to be moving past 2011 but so sad to enter a year that Luke will never see. We asked the boys what they enjoyed about 2011 and they gave us a long list of good things: New house, moving to their new school, new friends, Ocean City, meeting one of the Colts, our trip to Kansas, Disney World, and of course Sarah Jane. This was not even the whole list. Benjamin then said, " But Luke died." So proud of them and thankful that they can still see the blessings and happy times that we have had. A good lesson to all to continue to find happiness despite sadness. Sweet litle boys...
Sarah is starting to play with toys and continues to be a smiley and sweet baby. She is starting to give us some giggles. She is growing so fast and so tall! She is stretching out of clothes left and right! Benjamin is so gentle with her and loves to hold her. He was so happy and proud the other day when he made her laugh for the first time (that he had seen). She likes to sit with Samuel while he watches TV. I have not taken many pictures of the three kids together. I have not been avoiding that on purpose, but I did not realize that I had not done that until recently. I need to be better about that. It is just that I have 4 kids, not 3. The "Luke sized hole" is seeming huge right now. Just another thing to work through.
Happy New Year to all! Erin