Thursday, December 3, 2015

12 DOC: Day Three: Alex Hopper

*This post is part of our Twelve Days of Christmas series. You can read more here.*

When the Magic of Christmas doesn’t come…
by Alex Hopper

I’ll never forget that first Christmas. After my son was born and passed on November 25th, it wasn’t really Christmas anymore. It was the one month anniversary of my son’s death, the day that he should have been one month old. It was supposed to be his first Christmas, and our first Christmas as a “family”. It was supposed to be the day he would wear the outfit I bought specifically for him, 2 full years before he even existed. The one with the green-striped pants and the shirt that said, “Santa’s Little Helper”. But it wasn’t.

To me, there’s always been magic in Christmas Eve. It’s the one night of the year that you don’t want to sleep, because you’re too excited. The night that you lie awake dreaming about the next morning. I’m sure I didn’t sleep on that Christmas Eve either, but not because of excitement, because I could no longer sleep without a sedative. Because all I could do is lie awake and wish that this was all a bad dream. And that just maybe I would wake up Christmas morning to find everything as it should be. That maybe he would be sleeping peacefully in his bassinet. Maybe he had been there all along. And maybe if I believed and wished hard enough, the magic of Christmas could bring my son back to me. But the magic never came.

We awoke to an empty house that Christmas morning. We turned on the Christmas tree lights. The Christmas tree that was only there because we had put it up the weekend before his birth (had we not, there would be no tree). We exchanged stockings on the living room floor. And then we cried. Sitting on the floor by the fire, we wept. We wept for where our son was, in the cemetery down the street and we wept for where he was not, in our arms. When my husband told me that my present was upstairs, something inside of me thought it was our son. It didn’t make sense, but a grieving heart plays tricks on you. Somewhere inside, I hoped he would be upstairs in his room. As we took heavy steps up the stairs, I wished for a miracle. But when we reached the door to his room, he was not there, well at least not physically. What was there was a beautiful canvas of our son, on a wall of blue beneath a set of angel wings. Below that was his name, Cyrus, in white block letters, with pictures of our time together on them. And something about it was magical. It was our Cyrus Wall. I went into his room and I found the Christmas Outfit, the tiny striped pants and the little gray shirt. I held them close and then I carefully folded each piece. I opened his memory box, the one with the clothes he wore in the hospital and the program from his funeral, and I carefully laid the outfit inside. As I shut the box, I knew that he wasn’t coming back. And I knew that Christmas would never be the same.

So, to the mom or dad who is facing their first holiday season without their child, I wish you peace. I won't wish you a "Merry Christmas", or a "Happy New Year", but I will wish you a peaceful holiday. You don't have to be merry, happy, joyful, or even thankful. You just need to survive and that will be enough.

Whatever you can do each day will be enough.

Sending you love form one broken heart to another. 

~ ~ ~

Alex Hopper is a writer in North Carolina. She is married to her beloved, Trent, and mommy to her angel, Cyrus. Cyrus was diagnosis with a fatal birth defect in the womb at 12 weeks. He was carried with love until he was born at 33 weeks on November 25, 2013. He lived for 1 hour and 9 minutes. His life was short, but his legacy lives on.


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