Perhaps it was a defense mechanism, or just pure denial, but I actually thought I was going to be able to make it through the holidays without getting upset. Yeah, I know…as I write it now, I realize how silly (not to mention stupid) it sounds. There have been several posts on the subject of getting through the holidays. Heck, I’ve even posted articles on it. And many of these articles focused on Christmas. But what happens when you have eight nights of Hanukkah? Eight days of lighting candles as a couple, yet not the family you were supposed to be?
Well, for me, every night when we light the menorah (or in our case, Menorah since we have a collection and can’t just decide on one), I’m left feeling sad and teary eyed. It’s another reminder of the “should’ves.” You know, we should’ve been watching our first-born look at the Menorahs in awe of their glowing lights. We should’ve been spoiling our little one with her first Hanukkah with presents she’s not yet aware of, let alone care about. We should’ve been heading off to family gatherings to show off our little one and share this experience with grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We should’ve. But we’re not. Again.
Each night, my husband tells me that if it upsets me, then we shouldn’t light the menorah. And yet, it is tradition, and one that I’ve always enjoyed, so I can’t not do it. I used to love this time of year. I loved deciding which Menorahs we would light each night. Loved walking into my aunt and uncle’s house and seeing my uncle frying up the latkes. Loved going down to State Street to look at the decorated windows with our friends. Loved seeing our neighborhood all lit up. It’s just that now the concept of “happy holidays” seems to just be “holidays.” Where the fun, joy and excitement is gone, and is replaced by sadness, tears and a feeling of being numb. Not much to get excited about and look forward to. Will that feeling ever go away?
Regardless of what you celebrate, the bottom line is, when you’ve experienced the loss of a child (or children), this time of year just blows. Plain and simple. It’s the realization that the hopes and dreams you imagined from the moment you saw the positive pregnancy test are yanked away from you. For me, I tried to think, “THIS TIME it’ll work,” only to be turned into another Homer, D’OH!
Sometimes I think, shame on me for getting my hopes up and getting attached. That I should’ve known better since we’ve been burned before. What was I thinking? But at the same time, without that hope, I wouldn’t be able to carry on. I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed and face the world. I wouldn’t find the strength, determination and courage to be able to fight and make sure that loss doesn’t define us. Quite often, hope is all I have to go with.
So I have no choice but to blink back the tears and continue to light the Menorahs to honor our losses, keep some sense of normalcy and to put a pun on it, perhaps shed some light on our road ahead. And to those of you who share in our experience of loss, I hope you find the strength you need to make it a “holiday.”