It involved too many decisions (from the stockings to the Christmas cards to the baked goods - all of which I avoided altogether).
It involved shopping for three children instead of four (and all I ran across were presents that Jacob would have loved - so I bought them anyway and gave them to the rest of us).
I wanted Christmas over with. With everyone wishing others a Merry Christmas and a joyous season I wanted to crawl under a rock. No one wants to think about loss during such a happy season. No one wants to feel the grief of a family missing their shining star. Grief is so uncomfortable for others.
A few weeks before Christmas, on an especially difficult day, we received in the mail two cards with no return address. Inside were cards and gifts, one signed from a Secret Santa and one from a Christmas Angel. They were like hugs arriving in the mail.
A local woman, who had seen an article about Jacob in the paper this past summer, called and told me her church puts together baskets each Christmas for people experiencing hardships that year and that she would like to drop one off for us. She arrived on a morning when I was out shoveling snow. The flakes drifted around me and I was reminded of that day that Jacob was diagnosed with cancer. When I was out shoveling to take my mind off my fear. When she gave me a hug and started to talk about her own son, whom she lost 15 years ago, I knew that God had directed her to me that day. I invited her inside and we spoke of both our sons. Both mothers, both desperate to talk about the boys who are gone. Both wanting to tell their stories and say their names. Both understanding the pain.
I received a letter from another mother who had also lost a child. A card from a friend mentioning buying a floral arrangement for their church in memory of Jacob. A movie basket from a friend. A huge box of clothes for Amy. A floral arrangement on the morning of Christmas Eve. A photo I had never seen of Jacob before arriving in the mail from an aunt. A package with little wrapped gifts for each of the females in my family and notes for each of them. Which turned out to be Origami Owl lockets in honor of Jacob. With "Faith" and angel wings.
All of a sudden we were feeling the embrace of angels around us. Not in the material items themselves, but in the love that came with them. The thoughtfulness.Christmas Eve my sister presented us with a drawing of Jacob. She took one of my favorite photos of Jacob and captured it beautifully. It's a priceless gift.
My brother making a car decal in memory of Jacob. My mom making notecards and stamps with the picture of the cloud that means so much to me.
Some moments were harder than I expected. Some moments found me sobbing on the floor, or in the shower, or on the couch. The sadness was overwhelming.
But I had angels around me. Surrounding our family with love. With prayers. And most of all, with remembrance. Jacob is a little boy that can never be forgotten.