Christmas is literally right around the corner, so the tree is up, the stockings are hung.
The season of joy has arrived. As a loss parent, it took a long time to get here.
That first year was so difficult. Neither one of us wanted to celebrate, why would we. Our son had just passed away 3 months prior.
There were no Christmas cards mailed out that year.
Minimal decorations around the house.
The real tree we go get every year was replaced by a 4-foot fake tree.
Very few presents under the tree.
We had no joy, we had no energy to try that year.
But I hung my stocking and my husband’s stocking on the mantle as we did every year prior. Something was missing.
There were just 2 stockings when there should have been 3.
It felt so wrong just seeing the 2 but he was not here.
It is crazy how things, simple things can affect us so tremendously.
I looked at that mantle daily and it just felt so wrong that there were only 2 stockings.
So I made the decision to get one for him even though he was no longer here. A way to remember, a way to incorporate him into our lives. He was still our son; we were still a family.
I went to Target, who knew the pain it would cause my heart just to pick out a stocking. The questions I drove myself crazy with.
Should there be a design?
Should it be a full size one?
What about a small one?
Should it match my husband’s and mine?
The endless questions.
The endless doubts.
This stocking had to be perfect but I doubted my ability to find what called to me.
In the end, I couldn’t answer my own questions and I settled. I settled on a stocking because I was just still too raw in my emotions to make this decision.
Yes, a simple decision such as a stocking was difficult for me, too overwhelming.
So I settled on a small stocking with a snowman on it.
I went home, I hung his stocking with care between mine and my husband’s so his would be surrounded.
It hung there that Christmas.
But the following Christmas I was conflicted, you see our second son was born and I was out shopping and I was purchasing a stocking for him. I knew right away that I wanted one that had his initial on it to match ours but of course in a different color.
After I had picked out the one for our second son, I sat in that aisle debating with myself on whether or not I should get one for Drake to go along with ours. I debated and I debated but I left that store with just the one stocking.
I arrived home with my purchase and I hung that stocking on the mantle along with the others.
So now there were 4 but I was conflicted. My new baby boy, my husband’s and my stocking were all similar and Drake’s was the odd one. It stuck out but I could not decide if it was in a good way or not.
It took a few days of constant debate within myself before I realized I had to do something. A decision had finally been made.
He may be gone but he was still a part of this family and he deserved to be an equal. An equal part. He deserved to have a stocking to go along with ours. To fit in.
So I went back to the store and got his stocking.
When I got home, I took his original stocking and placed it inside his new stocking and hung up the new one; between mine and my husband’s, next to his brother’s.
There was no way I was going to get rid of his old sticking, it was still his. That stocking still held meaning. It showed me that I tried even though my heart was not into it.
It is crazy how much relief I got by doing that one thing. Who would have known?
It is crazy how much we constantly doubt our thoughts and actions. Constantly.
Something so simple as a matching stocking makes me feel like things are complete. That he is and always will be a part of this family.
Every Christmas since our third son joined us, 5 similar stockings get hung by the chimney with care.
Every Christmas, his stocking joins ours as a family.
As a grieving parent, sometimes it is the small things that fill our hearts with love for the child that is missing. We need these more than ever during the season of joy.
So each and every year, his stocking will be hung by the chimney with care along with the rest. Our family always and forever.
Photos by: Marisa Michaud
Marisa is the mother to 3 boys, one gone too soon and 2 keeping her on her toes. Drake died in 2010 at 12 days, 16 hours old after being pulled from life support due to injuries he sustained during delivery. Her other 2 boys: Aden and Gavin, whom she loves every minute with them.