The holiday season is going to be hard. Sad. Empty. Lonely. But, it is also going to come. And go. And come again next year. And the year after that. We can't ignore it, as much as I want to. We also can't ignore the large, hollow, empty place in our hearts, our lives, and at our tables, this year.
We need to honor you, remember you, laugh and cry, and start a tradition that will incorporate you into this holiday season and all future seasons to come. Partially to remember, and partially to share you with your little brother. While you two won't share the same physical space, you will share a brotherhood. A family. A love. And, he will know you, love you, and talk about you - just like I know you do about him in heaven.
So...what to do?
Thanks, very much to another SUDC family here in St. Louis (Shawn B. and family), we have settled on a new ritual. This year, and every year to come, we will have a special "Peanut Tree." It will be a small, but important tree, dedicated just to YOU! We will reserve a weekend in December to put up and decorate your tree. The tree will be trimmed with all your special ornaments - "Baby's First Christmas 2009" and the vintage paper mache Santa Claus, to name a few - as well as new ornaments. Each year we will add ornaments that remind us of you. Stories of you. Pictures of you. Colors of you.
Dadda and I had batted this idea around for several weeks, and then you spoke to me with a powerful confirmation. Peanut's approval. In a Hallmark store, of all places! Momma was running a quick "thank you" note errand, and there it was. A beautiful display dedicated to our favorite book, "Guess How Much I Love You." In the middle of the table, an ornament with Big and Little Nutbrown Hare, staring at the sky. The book is open in the background to the final quote - and Momma's nightly sign off. It was like...magic.
I promise, we will do other things to pay tribute to you this holiday season, Peanut. We will hang your stocking with the special "Connor" teddy bear stocking hanger. We will light a candle in your honor every night. In particular, on Sunday, December 11 during the "Light The Night" ceremony honoring all children who have lost their lives. But this tree will be different. It will allow us to carve out a weekend to decorate a tree, talk about you, tell stories, feel both your presence and absence, and include you in what was always Momma and Dadda's favorite holiday.
Peanut, this doesn't feel nearly sufficient, but it's a start. I hope you feel our love. My love, as I talk about you and share everything Peanut with anyone who will listen. Your absence is jarring. Your presence is comforting. And, above all else, the love your have created in our family, is powerful. Sending you Momma nose nuggles and forehead bumps. To the moon and back!
Readers, family and friends: Our family welcomes and invites your ideas for ornaments, tributes, or anything else that inspires you, as we create this year's tree.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I am thankful for you. Your e-mails, shares, "likes" and comments have been inspirational, heart warming and have reminded us that we are not alone.