In my living room, there is a deformed Christmas tree. Spattered on that misshapen tree are mismatched decorations as most have been destroyed by toddlers over the last few years. Among those decorations left, are three angel tree ornaments I received in 2014.
Christmas 2014 was a difficult one for me. I struggled badly to find the joy that I was sure I should be feeling. I was pregnant with my rainbow daughter but this was far from the Christmas I had imagined at the beginning of the year. I remember putting up the tree and feeling stuck between what was and what was coming. As December rolled along, I became even more torn, I knew that it meant so much more than just my feelings but how could I shake away the end of year blues?
Truthfully, I didn’t, and I always thought of that Christmas as a lost one.
But as I struggle to write this article (a combination of being busy and being distracted with the end of year hoopla), there is one thing that I do remember about that Christmas. Soon after my losses, I met a wonderfully courageous mama who was using her experience as a loss mom to help other women and families experiencing miscarriage and child loss. That year, she was collecting toys and gifts to be distributed to children in need all over our country. I called and asked if she needed anything, prepared to give a financial contribution. But, all she needed was help to wrap the presents.
I met up with her and spent a day with her and her family wrapping presents for children I would never meet. As I tackled the mountain of presents, all my angst about my problems melted away. I became consumed with the task and pleasant conversation. We shared our stories and I watched her rainbow children play and run around. And for that day, I felt the feeling of joy creep back into my heart. I became excited about what my next Christmas will look like with my daughter. I got emotional thinking of all the children who would be opening the gifts and prayed that they felt my love for them. I wondered about the people who bought gifts and donated money to this massive toy drive and I thanked them mentally for not only giving to the children but for the opportunity they gave to me to be there.
That was the day that I got three angel tree ornaments, one to characterize each baby that I had lost that year.
The angels have adorned my tree since 2014, and have become a part of our storytelling. As we put up our tree, I tell my children the story about how we use the angels to remember all the love we have for the babies who didn’t make it to being born, and how thankful we are for our family.
I know that this can be a difficult time when you are grieving. How do you celebrate when your heart is broken? And for that, I have no answers, except to say this: whatever you believe about Christmas, we can all agree that it gives us the opportunity to take stock of the year that is ending. We have the opportunity to choose to enter into the New Year, taking all the gifts of 2019 but looking forward bravely to what will come in 2020.
For the last time this year, I want to remind you to stay strong and choose love.
Choose the love that you feel for your baby, those who were born, those who were not born and those who have not yet been born. This year, I will hang my angel ornaments and I will choose gratitude. Gratitude for the one reason that I celebrate this season, for the kindness of strangers, and for every courageous mama touching their bellies in anticipation. And should you need it, please know that there are three angels hanging on a deformed tree in Trinidad and Tobago that I hope reminds you that you are not alone.