I feel like we need to stop for a minute and acknowledge that maybe, for some of us, this season is hard. Like really hard. And we’d just like to skip the festivities this year.
In the fall of 2012, I accidentally got pregnant. “Accidentally” meaning it was not planned. Not “accidentally” like I didn’t know how babies were made. Please do not email me and offer to explain. In 5th grade my mom showed my sister and I what a condom was and how to put one on and I’ve never been the same since. Plus, the giggling that came out of my younger sister’s mouth still haunts my nightmares. She used to laugh like a hyena on crack.
We had not planned on more children and were shocked at the positive pregnancy tests. But by Christmas time, we were starting to get excited and spent holiday gatherings telling our families. Everyone knew we were good with two and so surprising everyone with third Graham baby news was really fun.
Then in January I had a miscarriage.
It was long and drawn out and knocked me on my butt hard. I drank a lot of wine and ate a lot of cheese in January. I wore lots of black and acted very French, apparently. If I could have found one of those really long cigarette holders I totally would have used it. I don’t smoke, but maybe I would have taken it up? Who knows.
Because life is cruel and the world doesn’t care, everything else went on and so I did too. But when Christmas rolled around the next year, sadness and emptiness hit fast and hard. I didn’t see it coming. Most days I didn’t think about our loss because I am really good at blocking bad stuff out. I think it’s called denial, I am not sure.
But that Christmas we should have had a baby. Christmas was when we shared our good news. Christmas was here and we were one short.
It shocked how much it hurt again. I wasn’t prepared for the sudden, intense hurt to come back so strong. I thought we were moving on.
This year has been hard for people I love. Two of them have said out loud I was raped. Babies have died. Spouses have died. Divorces have divided families.
This Christmas season looks pretty on Instagram and Facebook but there’s a lot of pain here too. I know the feeling all too well of just wishing this holiday would pass because there’s too much family time and celebrating, too much cheer and down time. Because it’s during the quiet that sadness creeps in and takes over. Because a routine and work and errands and meetings fill things, distract minds, and make the hurt less noticeable.
It’s still there though, settled in for the long haul like those twenty pounds you really want to lose, but you sometimes forget about it if you’re busy and wearing stretchy pants. But when you’ve got time to sit and reflect and eat the dessert with Grandma, then you realize your pants are too tight. Or your broken heart is overwhelming you. So then you’re uncomfortable and sad and just want to get out of the house. Or the pants. I sorta got lost on that metaphor so you’re just going to need to trust me that it makes sense.
I have a friend who had a miscarriage recently. I think about her a lot and really want to reach out to let her know I love her and am thinking about the baby she won’t get to meet until heaven; to let her know she isn’t alone if sadness and maybe anger show up this Christmas instead of joy and cheer. But I haven’t said these things to her because there is a small, self-conscious part of me that thinks I might just be bringing up something unpleasant for her and that would be rude.
I know that is completely false because my fear of bringing it up implies that it went somewhere, that it left.
It didn’t go anywhere.
It’s there all the time. Loss of life, loss of relationship, loss of innocence, it doesn’t leave. It shapes and molds you into something different and, at times, unrecognizable. It’s there whether we say it out loud or not.
So for Christmas this year, let’s say it out loud. Let’s say that we’re hurting and we need help. Let’s say that this is hard and it feels like too much. And let’s not be afraid to ask how others are doing and to really, truly listen to what the answer is.
Merry Christmas, even if it’s hard.