Empty Arms At Christmas
Pictures of Santa.
Taking your kids to look at lights, Elf on the Shelf, letters to Santa.
All pretty typical of the American family.
I’m not typical. Not in any way. Shape. Or form.
I’m a complete and total mess.
The words of a Selah song, “ I will carry you..” resonate in my heart and soul.
“People say that I’m strong but I’m not. Truth is I’m barely hanging on. But there’s a greater story, written long before me, because he loves you like this..”
My Tucker’s 2nd birthday was last week. He’s dead. That seems harsh but it’s my reality. Some text me and messaged me on the “anniversary.”
Which it was.
It’s a birthday and it’s also a date of death.
I guess anniversary was the lesser of all evils.
Two years ago I was pregnant with twins. I was more in love, at peace and excited than I’ve ever been. After IVF you think I’d have also been scared of the, “What ifs?” but I wasn’t. Naive on my part.
After so much struggle, I had our miracles growing inside of me. It wouldn’t make sense to think anything other than happiness and realized dreams would come of this pregnancy.
It changed in a second.
Life always changes in a second.
I remember the exact moment the doctor looked at us and said, “There’s your second baby.”
I remember the exact moment I found out they were boys. My mama’s heart had constantly put out that I had a baby girl and boy. When it was confirmed they were both boys, my heart grew in a way I’d never imagined possible, with an unconditional love I still carry.
I remember the exact moment my water broke at 18.5 weeks and they told me I’d deliver both babies that night. But I didn’t. Tucker fought for a few days. Fletcher fought for a few weeks longer.
Never in my life would I think I’d be quoting a Taylor Swift song.
“Come on baby with me we’re gonna fly away from here…What if the miracle was getting even one minute with you?”
How do you celebrate the birthday of your miracle when it’s also the day they died? Last year was so important to me to make sure it mattered. We lit Chinese lanterns that we had written notes on for our boys and it seemed so thoughtful and right.
The winds were against us and we nearly burned down our surrounding area. But even in that disaster of worrying about trees on fire from our illegal lanterns that declared our undying love for our boys, I laughed. Because it was dramatic. It was over the top. It was crazy. It was so real. This beautiful thing that had taken an awful turn.
What would life with twin boys who are two be like? This year, especially, I wonder. Would they love Santa? Would they sit on his lap, smiling, or more likely, be throwing a total fit and causing chaos? I can’t even begin to imagine the beautiful chaos my two baby boys would be causing.
But I don’t know.
Because they aren’t here.
This year, on Tucker’s birthday, I played it safe. I didn’t know what to do to celebrate and mark his short time on earth. I walked around Walgreens, like a zombie, going from toy to toy, wondering what he’d have gravitated towards. For such a small thing, it seemed really huge to me. I kept picking up stuffed animal after stuffed animal, near panic at times wanting to make sure I got the right one.
I had to lean on my mother’s intuition and picked out a stuffed bear that played music. That no one other than me would hear. I got a number “2” candle and I went to their tree.
I don’t have a Christmas tree. I haven’t bought or wrapped the first present. I’m not too proud to admit that my heart is nowhere near the Christmas spirit. Which sucks for me. Two years ago I loved Christmas, I had eight decorated trees in my house.
Now I’m visiting a memorial tree.
My twins’ memorial tree.
I bought the stupid bear and candle and took them to my son’s grave. I sat there, with tears streaming down my face, I placed the bear and lit the candle. And I just sat there. Waiting for that damn light to go out. It was windy, it was near the water, it shouldn’t have lit. I didn’t expect it to. But it did. And it flickered for longer than I expected.
With tears running down my face, remembering the moment I held my baby who looked so much like me, his little light flickered. It wasn’t the brilliance of a Chinese lantern, it was nothing special. It was a drugstore birthday candle. It shouldn’t have meant much.
But it did.
It was a moment of a mom, celebrating the birth and life of her baby. That flame flickered for longer than I imagined. The wind finally put it out and I left.
“I will carry you, while your heart beats here. Long beyond the empty cradle thru the coming years. I will carry you, all my life, I will praise the one who’s chosen me to carry you.”
I’ll light the next candle on Christmas Eve for my beautiful Fletcher’s 2nd birthday.
I don’t have presents under a tree that I’ve worried about little fingers destroying. I don’t have Santa pictures.
What do I have?
I have empty arms at Christmas.
And every. other. day. of. the. year.
I also have an endless love for two babies that stole my heart in a moment. I carried them. Their whole lives. When they left my womb they were in my arms. When they left this earth they went to a place where they will never know anything other than love, peace and hope.
Last year I had a huge flame, this year small. But it doesn’t matter the size of the flame, what matters is that it gives off light. It only takes one spark to get a light going. And my babies did that. And long beyond their last breath, their light lives on.
Christmas for me has forever changed. I don’t have what I expected. But what I do have is an eternal flame of unconditional love that burns so bright and I will never be mad, not for one moment, that I was the one who was chosen to carry those miracles.
Happy 2nd Birthday Tucker. Fletcher, your mama loves you. I can only imagine the chaos you both are causing, and nothing makes me this mom more proud.
Happy Birthday, my babies.
And Merry Christmas, my boys!