This year definitely brought up emotions I wasn't quite ready for. Thanksgiving was good. My family is great and we ALWAYS have a blast together. After dinner we walked around the canals by my parents' house to look at some of the houses that were already decorated. Well, that was when my first tears were shed. We came upon this house that had the ENTIRE front yard decorated. No joke, you literally couldn't even see the house behind it. I remembered walking by there last year with Hailey and there was a man standing outside who turned on a machine that blew snow. She was in so much awe over it and went crazy! It literally hit me like brick upside the head how hard this Christmas is really going to be without her. She was at the perfect age for Christmas...still so innocent with no expectations and willing to take everything in to the fullest! I could remember so clearly her face glowing, the lights sparkling in her big blue eyes and her huge, excited smile. Honestly, it hurt.
The next day we left for Solvang. The first night up there went great! It was the next day that really hit me hard. Sean took Lexi shopping for some one on one time, while Kim and I hung out for a bit. The place is really decked out for Christmas...decorations, lights, music, even a chill in the air. I could feel the sense of loss slowly creeping up on me. I walked by this little girl throwing a tantrum outside a store. Of course, her mom was getting really frustrated with her (as any mom would!) and an urge came over me, I just wanted to hug her. I'd been through that same tantrum so many times before with Hailey and so frustrated just like that poor mom was. And yes, I will admit that I would still be frustrated if it happened again!! But that was the first time that I actually wanted to hear her scream and yell again. I wanted to get frustrated with her. I wanted to feel bad afterwards and give her a hug and wipe away her tears. That's when the sense of loss suddenly hit me with full force. I suddenly realized I was walking around, in and out of crowded shops, amongst hundreds of other people, and feeling more lonely than I ever thought possible. It was literally like I was in a twilight zone and all those people weren't even real.
There were people everywhere, chatting, smiling, laughing, arguing with their children, and yet not one of them had any idea of the intense pain and loss I was carrying around in my heart. I can't even count how many people I forced a smile back at, or said thank you to, or excuse me to, or whatever, but inside really wanting to scream at all them. I wanted to tell them to stop all the music, stop telling me to have a Merry Christmas, stop smiling at me, stop looking at me... My baby girl was gone. Yes, gone. I wanted to yell and tell them the whole story - How much I loved her, how hard I'd worked to keep her alive and healthy, how cute and amazing she was, how I found her that day in her crib...and so on. I seriously couldn't bear another second of it. The pain was so intense I wanted to crumple onto the ground and just wail. My stomach was nauseous, my chest burned, my head pounded. I ended up walking back to the hotel, literally using every ounce of strength I could possibly muster, not to break down before I got there. Once there, I sat outside by fountain and let my tears flow as fast and hard as the waterfall I faced.
As I later thought about it, I wondered if I was the only one walking those streets that day who felt this way. Was I the only one who felt so lonely or carried such a burden? Was I the only one who felt hopeful and optimistic one second and then the next wanted to curl up and die with my baby girl? Was I the only one who could have literally broken down emotionally at any moment if someone had just looked at me wrong? I'm assuming the answer to that is probably a resounding, "No." Which then lead me to my next thought - Have I ever treated someone in a way that could have caused that emotional breakdown they were trying so hard to control? Have I ever judged someone who may have seemed rude to me when I had no idea where they were coming from or what burden they were carrying on their shoulders? Have I ever overlooked the pain in someone's eyes because I was too busy with my own life? Yikes, I'd rather not answer that list of questions.
I then prayed and told my Heavenly Father how sorry I was for all the times I may have judged someone's actions or not been as nice as I could have been. I promised Him, Hailey, and myself that I would do my best from that point forward to be compassionate and understanding to everyone because I really DON'T know what burden that person is having to bear. I begged that He would help to ease my pain so I could enjoy the rest of my time there with my family and as I looked up, Kim came walking around the corner. I realized how grateful I am for her and the rest of my family. She walked over and gave me a HUGE hug and I knew the Lord had answered my prayers. I seriously have been so blessed with the most amazing support system anyone could ever ask for.
As we walked to dinner that night, I knew my mom could sense my pain at that very moment. She put her arm around me and told me she loved me and was here for me. I asked her how in the world I was going to be able to get up Christmas morning and act excited while watching Lexi open all her presents. How was I going to pretend to enjoy one of the most special days of the year without one of the most special people in my world? My mom, who is the strongest person I know, said, "You just will. I know you can do it. You'll find a way and do it for Lexi and then later you can go break down. We'll be right there with you by your side." She's so right. I'm already starting to pray for that day. I'm so grateful for my mom. She's the best!
I think part of the reason this weekend was so tough on me is because it was a little too much Christmas all at once. I was slowly easing myself into it by going to Target and hearing the Christmas music and seeing the decorations, but in Solvang it was already full blown Christmas. It was overload! Not to mention, I have tons of pictures and memories of Hailey up there with us.
Now that I'm home and calmed down, I realize once again that I'm going to be okay. My faith is still strong. I still have my family and friends. I still have a lot to be grateful for and I WILL focus on that. Hailey would want nothing less. This Christmas season will take on a whole new meaning for me. Not that I didn't always remember that it was truly about the birth of Jesus Christ, but when you have kids, the present stuff does tend to take over. This year we'll be spending a lot more time remembering our Savior and what His birth means for us and Hailey. She is there with Him! She gets to go to His birthday party!!! And one day, I will personally join in that celebration by my baby girl's side. (I just hope they serve Lay's potato chips!)
Hailey's First Trip to Solvang
It took a lot out of her!
Hailey's Second Trip to Solvang
Giggling with Grammies at the Ostrich Farm