Our “Not so Happy” Crappy Thanksgiving

We did it. We made it through the first big holiday we had been dreading for the last eight months. It’s interesting to think about how I considered this our first Thanksgiving without Jake, considering we’ve never had one with him-with the exception of being eleven weeks pregnant last Thanksgiving. But when you become a mother, it’s like you can’t even imagine your life before your precious peanut entered it. It’s the same for us. The magnitude of love is no different just because he’s not here. He’s still and will always be our son, our baby, our little peanut.

I’ve been in D.C. for the week visiting Bret (as a result of a strong recommendation from my therapist). He’s assigned here until March. When he got home from an early day of work yesterday, he found me on the couch-curtains closed-no food consumed yet-snuggling Jake’s blanket. I was a puddle of tears all morning. I was thinking about Jake and how it should have been so different, he never had one Thanksgiving with us and he never will. Then I was thinking about my cousin Tyler and how he should have had so many more. When you lose someone you love so much, the holidays will simply never be the same again. One day, joy may come but there will always be a person missing at that table. And it hurts so much.

Bret, my best medicine ever, coaxed me out of bed and talked me into a hike aside the Potomac River (by the way, hiking for me is trying not to break me neck). It took me an hour but I grumpily agreed. As usual, Bret was right. It made me feel a little better to be in nature. But then the littlest thing brought me into a full blown rage-followed by some serious laughter. This 16″ish” year old very immature-in my opinion-girl, began busting out and singing Jingle Bells at the top of her lungs-in the worst tone ever by the way. So here I am, overlooking this beautiful view and reflecting on the year and how much loss we have suffered and this mess next to me is already cheering for Christmas? What? I wanted to dodge my cell phone at her forehead. But again, my logical husband reminded me that maybe that wasn’t such a good idea-that I should use a rock instead because it’s cheaper. Then we began laughing our butts off and quietly found a new path. She found us later. Look at this picture below…she’s in the far back. She ruined my Crappy Thanksgiving!

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But we snuck off and climbed down to a secluded little beach where all we could hear was water flowing and the wind whispering as we sat, hugged, cried and missed our baby. We drew his name in the pebbles and later hiked to another spot where we could see it from above. Another hiker said to his kids “Hey look, Jake was here.” Bret and I looked at each other and softly smiled to hear his name aloud. “Yes, yes he was” was all I could say.

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Compliments of Whole Foods and a microwave, we had our dinner. Jake’s candle in the center. This flameless candle was on during my entire labor and time with Jake. My doula gave it to me and we never let the light go out. For eight months it continues to lightly flicker every moment of the day. We will never run out of AA batteries at the Hand house. We will never let Jake’s light burn out.

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More tears came as we sat in silence for about an hour while eating and sipping on wine. We could hear each others thoughts, no words needed. Then we finally nestled into bed around 8:30 (big party animals) and sighed, snuggled Jake’s blanket just like every night, kissed each other goodnight-just like every night and finally exhaled. 

We did it. We made it through the day. One breath at a time. Together.

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