Well, the holidays are over and the new year is upon us. I’m relieved. I’m going to be honest, the holidays, Christmas especially, are difficult for me. I know they are difficult for any parents dealing with child loss and those grieving for any loved ones who have passed. I long for my baby to be here, to be a 15 month old sitting on Santa’s lap. To see her sucking on a candy cane in a Christmas photo with Eloise and Violette.
I was so excited to bring the girls to see Santa this year, especially since Eloise is old enough to understand who he is! We set them both on Santa’s lap. Both girls were smiling and looked so cute! (to me) Everything looked perfect…but it wasn’t. I became overwhelmed with sadness seeing the two of them on Santa’s lap, but was able to hold it together until we drove out of the parking lot.
And then I cried. Cried because I want my baby. Cried because I want to see all three of my daughters sitting on Santa’s lap, full of joy. Cried through Eloise’s questioning, “Mommy are you sad because of Ginnith?” and only stopped when Ryan quietly interjected my sobs saying, “She will never see Santa, Ashley. Gwyneth will never sit on Santa’s lap. The sooner you accept that, the better you will feel.” He knew why I was crying.
That statement hurt; it really did. I am not upset with him for saying it. It is partly true. She will never see Santa. But, I don’t know that my acceptance of that will make me feel better. Since Gwyneth died, I have truly come to understand what it means to grieve and that each person grieves in their own way, at their own pace. When I want to talk and cry about Gwyneth, Ryan usually does not. When I want to constantly ask ‘why?’ Ryan accepts that she is gone and does not question it. He says it helps him to enjoy life each day and not become stuck in a rut of depression. Ryan and I are on the same page with everything in our marriage, but not always how we handle our feelings for Gwyneth.
I know that acceptance is the first step in overcoming grief and continuing on with life. I know that my daughter is no longer living, but I can’t ever stop wishing she were here. Unlike after the death of a living loved one, I don’t have any memories of her to cling to. I think that’s why I see the memories I am making with my living daughters as such a loss for our family. I didn’t get the chance to make any memories with Gwyneth, none of us did.
Today I sit and wonder what the new year, 2017, will bring for me and my family. I sit and think of Gwyneth and what she might look like now. A heavy feeling of sadness and dread sit in my stomach today and always. It arrived the moment the ultrasound tech told me she had no heartbeat and it has not left. I go about my days, filling my calendar and day planner with activities and appointments, hoping to keep so busy that I may forget who I am. It sounds terrible, I know, but that’s what I do. Though it only works for a short time. As soon as I begin to feel a sense of happiness, the dread always comes rushing back. Living without your child is a life long journey of feeling incomplete and off-balance and constantly working to overcompensate.
Nevertheless, I look forward to using this new year to continue working through my grief and continue learning to accept Gwyneth’s absence. I would like to be at peace with it; I am not there yet. I don’t know how long that will take, but I won’t give up. And I won’t stop living the best life I can – for all of my girls. Eloise and Violette need their mother, in the best shape she can be in, and for them I will keep trudging on this year.
And speaking of shape, I also need to lose this baby weight immediately! I have my sister’s bachelorette beach party coming up in April and I refuse to be like the old, overweight, mom. Hot, cool, mom body here I come…MAYBE.