By: Amanda Crews
When I rolled into our family’s house on Christmas Eve, I was nervous but also happy to see everyone. It had been around 9-months since we had lost our sweet Carson, at 37 weeks, and we were just weeks out from losing our little girl at 10 weeks. The dinner was great, and I felt relieved that we had made it through the entire meal, on Christmas Eve, and I was still feeling ok.
We moved into the living room to begin a gift exchange. We laughed and opened gifts and really had a nice time. One-by-one the stockings began to come down, until there was just one remaining, hanging all by itself, empty. And that’s when the grief came crashing back in, rolling inwards, taking the very breath I had just been enjoying.
I knew that Carson had had a stocking. It was beautiful, and I’m so grateful for it to hang on the fireplace, amongst our growing families. However, I never thought about how the stocking would look, empty, and all alone by itself.
At best, it was a physical representation of how I felt at the time. I, too, was empty, and I felt so alone, despite friends and family’s efforts to make me feel not so.
But for so long, 37 weeks to be exact, I hadn’t been alone. I had been with child. And now, for equally as long, I had been without him, and not just in my arms, but in my life. He was now a memory, a hope shattered, a dream deferred, and an empty stocking.
That was my first Christmas after losing Carson. It’s now been almost seven years. I can’t even believe it when I think about it. And now, each Christmas, I look forward to seeing his stocking hanging. I run my fingers along the beautiful stocking and embroidered name, and I wonder how it would look if he were still here with us today. I wonder if he’d be entertaining everyone around the living room like his sister who came a year after him, almost to the day. I wonder if he’d be curled on my lap from the overstimulation of the loud room bursting with laughter and love like his brother who came two years after him. Or I wonder if he’d be grazing the dessert bar and reaching for seconds like his littlest brother who came four years later. But to be honest, I really think he’d be a mix of all three, and though they’ll never know him, I will.
So, as we approach Christmas in just a few weeks, I want to encourage you to find ways to incorporate your sweet baby into your Christmas celebrations. Lean into the hard and feel what you need to. But most importantly, carry your baby with strength, honor, and love, because you, my sweet friend, are not the empty stocking hanging alone.
We’re all here, wading through muddy water, just waiting for the next wave of grief to come crashing in.
We see you.
We feel your pain, and we send our love.
Love, Someone who has gone before you.
About Amanda Crews
Amanda is a follower of Jesus, wife to Chris, and mama to Carson (5) and Lucy in Heaven, and Mia (4), Arie (2), and Mateo (9 months) here on Earth. She offers Christian encouragement on her website http://www.sanctifiedbylove.com and enjoys reading, writing, cooking/baking, traveling, and investing in relationships. Amanda can also be found on Instagram at Amanda’s (@as.crews) profile on Instagram