I've been inspired by a fellow bereaved blogger to write more frequently. I'm not going to make a formal commitment to number of posts or a period of time, but I'm going to try to record my thoughts more frequently. During Henry's illness and after his death, writing blog posts felt akin to getting the poison out at times. As I've written before, I've always loved draining a good abscess. I don't feel that way anymore, like there is something there welling up under the surface that just isn't going to go away until I squeeze it out.
That said, there are lots of moments in an average week where his absence impacts me, though in much smaller ways than it used to. I think it is safe to say that my period of active grieving is over, probably about a year ago. By that, I mean that I am no longer having days where grief overwhelms me, or muddies an entire experience. As I've written before, the "what does that mean?" of not actively grieving my own child gets into my head sometimes...I might explore that more another time.
Today I wanted to write about Christmas stockings. This will be our 4th without Henry, and our first with Baby E. The last three Christmases we have hung Henry's stocking in its usual place on the fireplace mantel. It's emptiness was excruciating the first year, and sad for the last two. I have kicked around filling it with various items; I entertained thoughts of getting gifts for a child his age and donating them to charity, but that somehow seemed too sad to do. (We do make charitable donations in his name every Christmas and for his birthday, which has become very important to me).
Baby E has taken over Henry's spots in our home, in a very physical sense. She is in his room, uses his locker for storage of her coats and shoes, and is beginning to play with some of his toys. This has not been without pain and tears for me and Mr. Smak, but natural and the way things needed to be. I did not, however, feel it was right for her to "inherit" his Christmas stocking. Every time I began to think about it I got upset.
My solution is here, via UPS today:
It is not often I can find a way to satisfy that hole in my heart, but this one worked. Henry's will still be empty on Christmas, but I like this tangible way to represent him on that family event.