So that’s it, Christmas is over and we’re into another new year. Our third Christmas without Poppy and our second with Reuben. Christmas after loss has been a whole mixture of emotions as always. The joy of seeing the magic amaze Reuben, the grief that we have done all the things we should have done with Poppy. We forever have a missing a piece in our lives and that will always suck.
Baby loss and parenting after loss are tough roads to walk. There are of course times when you can walk it a little easier than other days. There are the days when it’s harder. Christmas is a strange mix of the two. The festive period always heightens the emotions and that empty hole that should be filled with Poppy is bigger than ever. I feel so blessed and fortunate though, we have our rainbow, we have that beacon on light to guide us along the dark roads.
Christmas after Poppy died was hard and it was hard to see any of the magic and joy. It felt strange to be celebrating Christmas when she’d just died. Then last year we were still in the bubble of the first few weeks of Reuben’s life. He was too young to know what was going on and we were still learning parenting after loss and parenting. That’s the one part that’s hard, when parenting your rainbow you are doing things for the first time when for us it should have been the second.
This year we wanted to start traditions and find ways to include Poppy in our Christmas celebrations. We took part in Advent To Remember.
Each day we did something for us as a family, for Reuben and for Poppy. It started with the tree. Putting it up and putting on all decorations. Putting on all the ones we’ve bought for Poppy. To remember her and include her. Buying personalized decorations have been so important to me. It would be wrong to not have something for her on the tree. It’s the simple things, the things that seem so small that mean so much. Having Poppy’s names on an ornament on the tree includes her. I’m doing something with her despite the fact she is painstakingly not here.
Hanging up all the lights was a magical moment for us. Just watching Reuben’s eyes widen with amazement was something I’ll never forget. He loved them and wanted to play with them all. Which lead to hilarious moments of him pushing himself behind the tree to sit and play with them. It was like watching him enter Narnia. If it wasn’t the lights it was the decorations he wanted to play with. Pulling ones for Poppy off which we didn’t want him to break yet was so adorable to see him playing with something for Poppy. I’ll never get to see them play together and moments like that do bring a warmth to my heart as much as a dagger.
On a few days for our advent to remember we donated to charity. Small charities, big charities but all ones that do something to help families that have to suffer the heartbreak of baby loss. Being able to give back to charities in Poppy’s name so that it can help another Mum or Dad is amazing, that sounds strange I know. It means that Poppy is making an impact in the world. In her name we are helping others like we’ve been helped and are still helped.
One of the highlights was going to a mass for the Wakefield Hospice. We had donated and had a light on their tree lit in Poppy’s name. Going there as a family and lighting a candle was magical and a nice way to feel together as a family of 4. I’ll be honest though trying to keep a 13 month old quiet during a service isn’t going to happen. Roo was chit chatting to everyone and running around so we had to make a swift exit but we created a wonderful memory, no matter how bittersweet it was.
As the days and weeks went on and Christmas fully took over streets and towns, so did the joy of seeing Reuben soak it all up. The wonder and amazement filling his little face is wonderful to see. We meet to see Santa, which Reuben didn’t like. We went to see as many Christmas things we could. Just walking round and seeing all the bright colours and lights and Roos little face just shone. It was amazing to see and I can’t wait to see his understanding and wonder of Christmas grow.
The lights, the buzz, the magic. It’s all part of the season. We’ve started our traditions this year. We’ve got the magic back thanks to our rainbow. Seeing Christmas through him is an incredible thing. His book advent calendar, our annual Nando’s trip, matching wreaths for us and Poppy.
Christmas Day was that forever bittersweet feeling. Joy and sadness. I have my moments for Poppy but with parenting after loss its so important to remember that Reuben’s joy has to come first. I will feel sad for Poppy and it’s ok for him to see that but I don’t want to let it takeover and stop him from enjoying moments, like Christmas Day. The wonder of being all his gifts under the tree.
We’ve started the Goodchild traditions. We’ve started all this but despite all this joy something remains the same. Our grief for Poppy not being here to enjoy it too.
Through all the magic and joy of seeing Reuben experiencing Christmas it has a bittersweet blow to it as well. We should have had all this with Poppy, she should be here with us too. Parenting after loss is filled with light from our rainbow but dark clouds are never far away. It’s moments like Christmas when you notice that dark tinge to the world a little more than you would normally. That lack of colour at times.
For all the amazing memories we created with Reuben, ones that I feel so blessed and fortunate to have, I can’t help but think about how we should have done this all before. Poppy would be 2 and be more aware of Christmas and good old Saint Nick now. She should be showing Reuben all these magical things too. She should be sat on Santa’s knee too. She should be under the tree too.
All the amazing family moments just highlight the massive hole that is in our hearts and life. Poppy should be here with us and it’s not fair that she isn’t. Reuben should have his big sister playing with him. We should have started all our traditions with Poppy. You feel here not being her more.
I worry we don’t do enough to include her in our festive celebrations. I worry that I’m letting her down, letting her memory down. I just want to snuggle up with her by the Christmas tree reading stories to her and Reuben. I want Emily and me to have Poppy and Reuben snuggling up to us in the sofa. I want us to be the the family of 4 that we should be. I want us all to be together like all the other families.
The sad truth is that we always have a forever missing piece of our family. No matter how big our family gets there will always be a missing piece of the jigsaw. Lost forever and nothing can bring it back. Nothing can bring Poppy back to us and that is something I’ll never be fine with and never be able to deal with.
I just wish she could be here. I want her to experience all the magic of Christmas too. I want to see the wonder in her eyes too. I want to see her smile and gaze in pure joy at Christmas lights. I want my little girl to be running in with her little brother to our bedroom on Christmas Day.
I hate we’ll never have that.
What we will do though is always remember Poppy. We will always do things for her over Christmas. We will always talk about her to Reuben. She will always be a part of all we do. For Reuben we will keep giving him the very best life. Showing him the magic of Christmas, letting him enjoy it and love it. Reuben you are our magic and joy. Our hearts are always aching for Poppy but you’ve always bought the joy back to us.