Keeping the Connection

Keeping the Connection

From A 5th Portion of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Keeping the Connection

As a mother grieving the loss of a child, the road ahead stretches long and difficult. Not having had the opportunity to complete your child’s life to adulthood breaks a mother’s heart over and over again. You wonder every day what he is doing. Is he okay? You pray that he is happy.

My first Christmas without my son, Justin, was a painful struggle. I just couldn’t find the strength to decorate a tree with all the beautiful ornaments Justin and my daughter, Stephanie, had made over the years. Instead, I decorated my elderly mother’s tree and my family shared Christmas with her. It helped us survive the first year.

The next year, I summoned the courage to put up the Christmas tree with lights, but once again Justin and Stephanie’s precious ornaments remained packed away. That’s as far as I got, but it was a major step.

Justin had loved Christmas, and for the sixteen years of his life he had always helped put up the tree. In fact, since Stephanie had been away at college, he’d taken charge of the decorating. He always assembled the nativity scene under the Christmas tree, a job he especially enjoyed. My father had made the manger out of barn boards from my grandfather’s barn, and I had painted the figures in a ceramics class, so it had a very special meaning to our family.

By our third Christmas I felt stronger. I needed a connection to the Christmas times past when Justin had been alive. This time I put up the tree and lovingly decorated it with the children’s ornaments. Then I went to get the box containing the nativity manger and ceramic figures, which had not been touched for three years.

As I looked inside the barn board manger, I discovered a tiny little Christmas card. The front of the card showed a picture of a little boy carrying lots of Christmas cards to be delivered. I opened the card and read the inside verse:

If I could just pick up and leave
I’d start this minute, I believe
To be with you on Christmas Eve.

At that moment, I knew I’d make it—not only through the holidays, but also through the long journey ahead of me without Justin. I never found out how the card got into the manger, but I viewed its presence there as a gift from my son. In my heart, I knew the tiny card with its message of wanting to be together for Christmas Eve was my much-needed connection to Justin. It would see me through that third Christmas, and ever after.

Patricia Chasse

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