Sunday, December 8, 2013

Love Is Alive

Today we decorated a Christmas tree for the first time in our new home. And after five years of being parents, we had the help of a child for the first time. Jackson couldn’t get enough of putting ornaments on the tree—he loved every minute of it, concentrating so hard to open the loops on the ornament hangers and finding a good place on the tree for each of the ornaments I let him hang. Throughout most of it, he sang, “O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree” over and over and over (he hasn’t mastered any of the other words just yet).

It has been such an absolute joy watching him catch my love for Christmas. I have been trying hard to share it with him, playing Christmas music all the time, talking with him about Santa and his reindeer, letting him open a Christmas book each night as we count down to Christmas. And he really has taken it all in with gusto.

When we were mostly finished and had started getting dinner ready, this song came up on Pandora:
It was the most fitting ending I could imagine to what had been a very bittersweet afternoon as Jackson and I hung up all our turtle ornaments and looked at Hudson’s picture (he first guessed it was a picture of him). So much sorrow, but so much hope and joy, too.

This is my winter song.
December never felt so wrong,
cause youre not where you belong;
Inside my arms.

I still believe in summer days.
The seasons always change
and life will find a way.

Ill be your harvester of light
and send it out tonight
so we can start again.

Is love alive?

This is my winter song.
December never felt so wrong,
cause youre not where you belong;
inside my arms.

This is my winter song to you.
The storm is coming soon
it rolls in from the sea.

My love a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light
to carry you to me.

I wrote about this song two years ago when I first heard it. It brought me to my knees then, and it did so again today. It started with me facing the stove, trying to wipe my tears away quickly and not let on that I was crying. It ended with me sobbing in Ed’s arms on the couch, Ada sandwiched between us, and Jackson looking on, clearly confused and a little concerned.

I knew this time would come. Up until this point, while I have cried in Jackson’s presence many times, I’ve largely been able to do it without his noticing. I’m not ashamed of crying in front of him, but I do worry about how it will affect him, particularly when he’s not yet quite old enough to fully understand why I’m crying.

He looked at me, brow furrowed as he tried to figure out what was happening, and finally, he said, “Mommy’s crying.” And I said, “Yes, sweetie, Mommy’s crying. I’m feeling a little sad right now. Do you want to give me a hug?” And he came over, climbed into my lap, put his arms around me, and put his head down on my shoulder. We sat there for a few minutes. Then he got down and said, “Mommy needs some medicine!” clearly associating tears with pain, for which he usually takes medicine. Ed said, “Your hug was the best medicine Mommy could get, buddy.”

This moment felt like the beginning of something, a new chapter in this life without Hudson, the one where we begin to try to help her younger siblings understand death, grief, missing, the power of tears, the power of naming our sorrow and sharing it, where we begin to try to help them understand that grief and sorrow are simply another facet of joy and love, and that light will always follow darkness.

Because in our house, love is alive. Even while some remnant of that long, dark winter will always be with us, love is alive.


  1. Exquisite song. Thank you, dear Mandy, for your ability to express your feelings so beautifully and communicate so well with the rest of us struggling humans.

  2. Your strength is beautiful. Your love for your family even more so.

  3. If nowhere else on earth, love is completely alive in that house. Thank you for sending your love out into the cosmos. We all need it.

  4. Love is alive in family. You have been blessed with 3 beautiful children. I have followed your blog since sortly after your loss of Hudson. She is always with you, she is always your daughter. I believe in the ability to have an eternal family. To live together as a family after this life is over. Why else did God give us families here on earth. Hudson is just preparing a place in heaven for all of you to be together. What a joy it is to know this.

  5. I listened to the song and cried with you. Wishing you much love and happiness in this bittersweet holiday