Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Santa Line Breakdown

So today Adrian and I have been planning to go see Santa. I have been a bit under the weather with what seems to be a cold. I didn't get much sleep last night due to too much coughing and so when I woke up today, I immediately felt emotional. I knew today was going to be one of those days.

Adrian and I set off with my mother in law to head to a place where every child longs to be...Santa's lap. I decided I would take along an 8X10 picture of Ainslee so that I didn't feel like she wasn't included. It was important to me to make sure she was in the picture because it just doesn't feel complete anymore taking pictures without her in them. It will never feel complete.

We parked and started our walk to Santa's line. As we took our place in line, waiting for Santa to show up, I couldn't help but notice a mother with her baby girl in tow, and the grandmother as well. I heard them say it was a little girl and she was 3 1/2 months old. I thought to myself, "of course she is." The woman behind them asked if it was her first baby, and the mother politely said yes. "There's nothing like a first born." replied the woman in line.

I placed my Ainslee picture next to where I was standing and watched as my mother in law and Adrian ran around checking out the Christmas tree, the fountains, and the lights. 10 minutes of waiting seemed a lot longer at the time.

All of a sudden, I hear my sweet little boy's voice screaming "Mommy, Mommy....SANTA!!!!" He was walking next to Santa as he was heading our way. It was a moment of pure joy for Adrian. The emotions that accompanied me seeing this excitement in him were by far overwhelming. I didn't expect them, and they took control of me. He was running towards me and I was just sobbing. In a split second, I realized a lot of things. I realized firstly how incredibly much I love Adrian. I love seeing his excitement and I love that he brings joy to my life. I immediately realize that our sweet 1 year old daughter should be there to share in our family fun. I got so overwhelmed by the fact that she was never going to see Santa again. I would never get her picture with Santa. She would never be in our family pictures again. I was consumed with grief.

As I tried to collect myself, I heard another woman behind us saying how beautiful my baby was. She was talking about Ainslee's picture, so I said thank you. Of course the questions arise and I say that our daugther passed away in February of this year and I was taking her picture to see Santa with my sweet boy. She of course turned around....literally. Some people just can't handle it, and honestly have no idea what to say. I've seen that a lot amongst family, friends, strangers.

The proud grandmother of the 3 1/2 month old girl behind me came around their stroller and car seat and wrapped her arms around me. And I lost it. I cried so hard in this stranger's arms. Not concerned with how I appeared, not concerned with the absurd sounds you make when you wail, not concerned that I had no idea who she was. She simply said, "I understand."

She proceeded to tell me that her daughter that was there, the mother of the 3 1/2 month old, lost twin boys 8 years ago when she was 7 months pregnant. This wasn't her first child, this was her 3rd. That showed me that you have no idea of anyone else's story, as glamorous as it may seem. We all shared stories, we laughed, we cried. And slowly....we made our way up to see Santa.

As we approached Santa's sleigh, I handed Santa Ainslee's picture and asked if he would please hold it for our picture. I explained she had passed away earlier this year and I'd like her to be in our Santa picture. His eyes grew a gray sadness, his old lips turned down, and he touched my shoulder. "I understand." Santa lost his 21 year old great granddaughter to an unknown cause, they found her lifeless at home. I could see his sadness and as I sat next to Santa with my little boy on my lap, my Hadlee wiggling around in my tummy, I thought, everyone has their sadnesses. Everyone has a story. He said that it is completely unnatural for a mother/father/grandparent to bury their child/grandchild. Gosh, he understood. And this sweet St. Nick told me that this Christmas he would pray for me. That's all I wanted to ask Santa for, for Christmas. To please just bring me joy and let me grow old with my children.

Adrian mentioned to Santa he'd like a choo-choo train. :) Our picture was about as perfect as it can get. This Santa was by far the sweetest Santa I've ever met and his kind heart was easily able to be seen.

Today showed me that we are not the only family going through a difficult loss. That other strange faces on the street may look like normal faces to you, may look like a person that has their life together. But in actuality, we have no idea what's on the other end. Today was a reminder that we're not alone in this grief battle. Today was a reminder that the jollyest of souls goes home tonight and has hurt. It was another reminder that God sent me people to show me that we can do this and that he's sent us Adrian and Hadlee to help us through. When the grief does get heavy and I feel like it's crashing down, I remind myself that I am so thankful to be Ainslee's mother. I would never want her to be anyone else's child so I didn't have to feel this pain. I would feel this pain as fresh as the day it happened, day in and day out, for the rest of my life for those short 3 months with her. And so what if I had a Santa line's all part of the healing process. Or so I'm told.



  1. I am so glad you had those special people there with you today. God put all of you in that exact place in time, to meet and share your stories and grief. You are so right, you never know what anyone is going through. Looking at a "perfect" picture, but we never know the whole story. Praying for you always!

  2. That was beautiful, Channan! And your right, everyone has a story.... I'm glad that even strangers could "understand" and help comfort you. How precious.
    Much Love,

  3. Wow, this really touched me. You're so right, you dont know anyone elses story. Everyone is dealing with some form of grief. I'm so glad that the experience you had in Santa's line, while it was sad, was a good one. You were surrounded by gentle people who helped you get through something so difficult.

    I'll be praying for your family this Christmas season.

    Merry Christmas to you and your WHOLE family!


  4. Channon, beautifully said. Thank u for sharing ur healing process with us all as it authentic & inspiring. We do all have our sadness, and grieving the loss of someone who has actually left this earthly world or are still here but are not part of our lives is such a process. Ur words are encouraging. His grace is sufficient.
    Julie (Newberry) dasilva

  5. Wow! I don't even know you and I was in tears. I have never commmented on your blog, but I read it all the time. I am so glad there are nice people out there that take the time and effort to comfort random strangers. There are not enough nice people in the world anymore. Merry Christmas you and your family.

  6. Thank you for sharing. To be perfectly honest I read another blog where a mom once had a family photo taken where she held a framed photo of her infant daughter who died...and I didn't get it. It seemed crazy to me. But now... I get it... thanks to your story and it makes sense.

    Having recently celebrated a different kind of loss, I think it is good to cry and it is helpful.

  7. That is so awesome that the grandmother and Santa embraced you!!! Kudos to them for not running away!