I am finding myself back at Children’s Hospital on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon. I am sitting outside in the sun in only a sweater. There is a slight breeze in the air, and if you would have been here with me, we would have gotten an ice cream to share. You would have been bundled up in blankets, and you would have loved the sun against your cheeks. Christmas lights are up. I know there are here to cheer the families on, but I remember being kind of sad to see the twinkling lights from the hospital window. It meant you were sick, and that we couldn’t enjoy the holidays from home. I also see my familiar running path around the hospital. Today would have been the perfect day for a run around the hospital, and stretching by the big red snake Jake and watching the blue sky. I can’t deny it I do miss this place. There were lots of time I worried about you, sleepless nights, and scary times, but this place always left me with a sense of gratefulness and thanks for being such a big part of our lives.
Today, Sarah is volunteering in the gift shop, and it was my turn to drive her. Due to recent work travel, I haven’t been at the hospital for about six weeks. It’s a pretty long stretch considering that I typically come here for at least one meeting per month, and driving Sarah for her volunteering. There are not many people in the hospital on this Sunday. I know the doctors have tried to send home as many patients as they can for the holiday.
We celebrated our second Thanksgiving without you. Holidays are hard. There is not a Thanksgiving I don’t remember how we celebrated it together. It makes the loss more real. The feeling that you are missing around the table. That imaginable empty chair, and the expectation that we should all be thankful. It seems contradictory, but you taught me that you can be both. There can be moments of grief and sadness and moments of gratefulness and joy. This past holiday I felt both. We have friends we call family, and we had a wonderful day together. After we got home, I took a moment to sit in your room and simply remember all the details of you and your room on a late evening – the sounds, the smells, the lights, and the taste of a wet kiss against your so very kissable cheeks.
This holiday we lost a friend on Thanksgiving. Someone who has been in our lives as long as we have lived in Colorado. We didn’t know she had been battling cancer for years. We only found out the day before Thanksgiving. We were hoping it would be time for us to say our goodbyes this past Friday, but she passed on Thanksgiving. She didn’t want her disease to define her. She wanted to be the person we always had known. I was thinking how supportive she always was of you. I now know that she probably could relate more to you than I ever knew. She will be missed by many, and I think about her dear husband having to find a new normal.
As we go in to another holiday season, I am making myself a promise to slow down a little and remember all the beautiful gifts you gave us. It’s easy to get caught up in the “musts” and "to-dos", and I will try to stay true to myself. Enjoy moments of happiness and joy, reflect on you and let grief find me when needed, and simply be thankful for this crazy life of mine.
Sweet Jacob, I love you to the moon and back,