As the snow piles up around us, leaning in towards the windows of the house like a tired soldier, I stare out across the fields of white meeting skies just the same. This year we hosted Christmas at our house for the first time. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing day were filled with a steady stream of company. Much noise, much mess, much food, much happiness. It was lovely to have our families filtering in and out of our home this year, allowing us to stay here all day, waiting to be visited.
Over Christmas dinner, my brother asked his kids, 6 and 3, ‘what was your best day?’, their way of discussing their favorite parts of the day. My niece, 6 going on 18, chatted about opening presents and playing with her cousin this morning, reflecting that her most favorite moment was walking down the stairs to see the living room full of presents from Santa. My nephew, 3, chattered on a rambling story about GTs, skidoos, falling in the snow and a scene that may have been imagined involving a deer looking at him through the trees.
We all shared moments of our days that made us smile, and I felt, at the moment, sitting next to my husband, surrounded by family and food, utter gladness and gratitude for what I have at this moment.
That being said, I have not forgotten that this Christmas could’ve been much altered. Waking up in the morning, early, bathed in thick darkness, I perused my phone, unable to sleep. I browsed Instagram, immediately coming across a photo of a little girl, dressed in festive red, with the words ‘baby’s first Christmas’ on her chest. My coworkers new daughter, born on what would’ve been my due date. She will always be the marker by which I gauge that alternate path I failed to tread. I said to my husband, ‘This Christmas could’ve been very different, huh?”
He squeezed my hand and put his palm on my belly. We got up and ate mandarin oranges from our Christmas Stockings, opened gifts to one another and soon led on to a breakfast of eggnog french toast topped with berries. It was a soothing, indulgent day.
Last night, my husband’s family came over. His three nieces tore around the house like maniacs as his brother and his girlfriend exercised their willpower and ability to tune out noise. We chatted and ate, snacking on turkey buns and cheese and crackers. My mother and father in law arrived, and we opened gifts. My in laws kindly gave me a lens for the new camera my husband bought for me this year, which I am still learning to manipulate and maneuver. At the bottom of the parcel I found a small, wrapped item, soft, like a pair of socks. I peeled it open to find a small red onesie. On it was print the letters ‘hi’ and a stamp of Hawaii. My mother in law had purchased this item in Maui last year, when we went with them in March.
At that time I was in the beginning of my first pregnancy. Hugely ill under the hot Hawaiian sun, but determined to to absorb the joys of vacation (this being our third trip to the island). We had broken the news of that first pregnancy to his parents before we boarded the plane, knowing that there was no way I could mask my severe nausea without serious suspicion. They were extremely excited, and I recall on one of our shopping trips, she purchased this onesie, and we had chatted about taking a photo with it on the beach to use weeks later, after the 12 week mark, to announce our pregnancy to the rest of the world. She bought the item, but we never did take the photo. We couldn’t know at that time that the child I was carrying would never grow to wear this first gift.
As I opened it yesterday, perhaps I got a glisten in my eye, or a pensive look across my face. ‘I hope it’s not inappropriate….’ my mother in law said quietly.
“No, not at all.” I smiled, touched to know that maybe I was not the only one remembering that lost child today.
I felt a tug in my heart.
Then I felt a tug below my navel. And a stretch. And a wiggle.
And I knew that, though so much has happened this year, and though I’m not where I thought I’d be way back in March, basking in the tropical sun, sand beneath my toes, I am here, on the road to something exciting, surrounded by family, next to my husband. I think, though much of it goes unspoken, all of us are gazing towards the future, voices clipped, holding our breath only slightly, and waiting to exhale, waiting for a rainbow.