I’ve spent several hours the last few nights scouring the internet, looking for some kind of card that might be appropriate for us to send for the holidays this year. I suppose that we could just bag the idea of cards altogether this year (after all, we’re already skipping Christmas Day), but if anything, what we’ve been through this year makes us want to try even harder to stay connected with our friends and family. And while painful and sad, the process of putting together a holiday card that serves as both a memorial for Hudson and a symbol of our hope for the future is somehow healing, too.
And yet, how to do that? As with Hudson’s birthday, I am so utterly unprepared for dealing with a task that is usually so filled with joy when I am filled with so much sorrow. I pored over card after card, looking into the happy faces of beautiful babies and children, peering into the lives of cheerful intact families, weeping again for all that we have lost, for all that we will never have again. Because as long as we live, in every photo that ever appears on one of our holiday greetings, our sweet girl will be missing. And I just don’t understand how that is possible. It’s excruciating.
There’s a radio station in town that started last week playing all Christmas music all the time. In any year before this one, I would have been all about it, cranking that station up and singing along with every tune. Last week, as I was flipping through the stations, I caught one refrain of Nat King Cole singing “The Christmas Song” and began to weep. I turned it off right away. Now when I change the channels, I skip quickly through that one. I’ve been wondering if I’ll be able to listen to any of my beloved Christmas music this year—I have a ridiculous collection of Christmas CDs (again, a passion I inherited from my mom, who probably had more than a hundred). The one album I thought I might actually want to listen to was Sarah McLachlan’s Wintersong. Ed gave it to me the year before Hudson was born, and I put it on a playlist with other Christmas music to listen to while in labor. Sarah’s non-traditional version of The First Noel/Mary Mary got me through one the most intense moments of my labor with Hudson—it was almost two years ago now, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It is obviously a Christian song, but to me, in Sarah’s hands, it is a beautiful, thundering ballad that also pays tribute to the power of a mother and the amazing experience of giving birth to a new life. (You’ll have to forgive this terrible video collage—if you want to listen to the song, close your eyes.)
Like much of her work, the Wintersong album seems to capture my mood, and this life, perfectly—mourning and hope all rolled into one.
On a break from the holiday card project tonight, I drove up to the store to grab some milk. I flipped through the stations, pausing on the all-Christmas station long enough to hear Sarah’s voice singing a song from Wintersong. It wasn’t The First Noel (somehow I doubt her version would ever make it on a mainstream radio station), but for tonight, it didn’t matter. Hudson was just helping me remember—sorrow, but also hope.
Sorrow, but also hope.