Christmas was a mixture of happy and sad. Which was to be expected. We stayed VERY busy visiting multiple different family members which helped the time pass quickly. We set up a tree specifically with Kendal ornaments, had a hand crafted sign made that we set next to the tree, and we of course put up her stocking. Christmas morning was difficult as Kenedi and Teagan were still wondering why we didn’t have any gifts for Kendal. But we assured them Santa found her and all her friends in Heaven.
It was difficult thinking back to the 2016 holiday season. The only holiday season all 5 of us were home together. (The twins’ first season was spent in the hospital). Throughout December I was often flooded with feelings and thoughts of “I wish I could go back to last year” and “I’m so glad we had that special time home, everyone happy and healthy” to “I’m so mad Kendal isn’t here this year” and all the way to “I should have enjoyed it more. I should have been more grateful for what I had”.
That’s the thing with grief, isn’t it? We can look back on moments and judge ourselves or others in how present, or not, we were in those moments. Grief makes us feel guilty for things we shouldn’t feel guilty about.
Grief also makes you feel anger when you least expect it and when you really don’t want to. And this is something that is difficult for me to think, and then admit. This winter has been rough for everyone with littles. I have many friends who have spent time in the hospital with their otherwise healthy kiddos for influenza, rsv, or other illnesses that they have had. Not only am I angry for them to have to be spending time in the hospital sick, because I know what hospital life is like, but it also makes me angry that I can’t “just be in the hospital with Kendal”. That Kendal can’t just be home with an ear infection. Or stomach bug. Or even pneumonia like Kenedi had recently. This may come off insensitive, I get it. But hear me out – I promise I’m a caring person. I love my friends and their babies.
But this is just a reminder for many.
I know that 3 puking kids at 2 am is difficult. And I know it’s hard to find any joy in sickness; like I said, Kenedi just had pneumonia and I was SO annoyed with being at the clinic for 4 hours and shots and meds and coughing all night. But I try to remember, there are hundreds of people out there that would give anything to trade me places. Parents that would trade you places. Parents who don’t have the luxury of having their child here with them anymore. These people would give anything to be knee deep in the trenches of puke or ear infections and everything in between.
Try to find a piece of joy during the sickness or the madness that’s got you feeling down, that’s what I always did when in the hospital. On nights I was so frustrated with Kendal and just wanted to sleep, I’d think back on the day and find something that made me happy or I was grateful for. I’d think about how lucky we were to be in treatment and doing well. Or how lucky we were with how alert Kendal was toward the end. Or with how she always said I love you. Or how she always wanted to cuddle. Was I furious she was sick and wouldn’t sleep? Yes. Was I so mad that she was dying and there was nothing I could do? Every. Single. Second. Did I want to wallow in a hole of self pity? Of course. I still do. But then I would think about people who didn’t get time in the end with their child. Or how some children died before they could walk. Or talk. Or give hugs. And I would quickly be reminded of how lucky we actually were. How lucky we still are to have some amazing memories with Kendal. And I’d remember how grateful I am for the storm. For the chaos. For the sickness. For Kendal.
*please note I am not discounting any frustration or sadness anyone feels when their child is sick. That’s normal!! I’m simply stating try to find the good in the storm. By finding joy it will help weather the storm*