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Presents under the tree

Christmas has come and gone 5 times without Amarah. Putting up the tree, of course, always tugs at my heart an awful lot. Finding ornaments she made, I find myself holding and smelling them just because I can remember her sweet little fingers holding them. Don't ask why I smell them, I know damn well there is no smell of her left. But, I can't help but hope for a simple little scent. (If you want a little chuckle at this point, I should confess, I still have her shoes.... Yup, you guessed it, this crazy mama smells those too! But, of course, her beautiful feet didn't smell!) Planning special events to enjoy with my living children is another painful tug. Looking at Christmas lights is always so magical to children. It's so hard to enjoy "magic" when I'm missing such a magical piece of my heart. Shopping is the hardest one. Surprisingly, the shopping is what leaves me really distraught. I try to avoid shopping in the store as often as possible. Walking through the aisles just reminds me of all the things I want her to have. I see so many things that I know she would love, and all the things I want to show her. I find things that remind me of what she is not going to see and do. She should be 10 along with her sisters. I want to buy her a hair dryer, and teach her how to style her hair and take care of it on her own. I want to teach her how to properly "Play" with her make-up. I want to teach her how to shop for presents for her loved ones. I imagine her using her whole heart to pick out gifts for her sisters. I want to know what kinds of things she would have grown to have interest in. Would she have interest in a specific sport? Was she always going to have a little bit of elegant, princess preference in her clothing? She was a tad stubborn, So I know whatever style phase she may have been in at the moment, I would have had a hard time convincing her to choose something different. I want to watch her open all these presents, and watch her joy as her loved ones open the gifts she picked for them.

We always buy a couple gifts to put under the tree for her, and stuff her stocking. The gifts are things I am guessing she might like, and things her sisters can enjoy for her. We do buy gifts for other children in our community, and that is where I can really pick out specific gifts I imagine Amarah just loving. Those gifts bring me a little bit of peace to have that moment to shop for her. However, I'm left missing out on the best part of seeing her enjoy them. I can only hope that whatever child receives them is happy and feeling loved. The first few Christmases were a bit easier to pick these gifts because I still had an idea of knowing what she liked. Now it is getting harder to shop this way because I don't know what she would like as she grew older. I find myself navigating a new layer of grief and letting go. Do I create a story in my mind about who she would be? Do I keep her stuck as that sweet princess, pink and purple loving, silly humored little girl? Do I let her go? I know I can't let her go, I don't want to keep her stuck, and don't want to create a made up version of her. I just want to know exactly who she was going to grow up to be.

But...I'm never going to know exactly who she was going to grow up to be. What I do know is that she had the ability to make you smile for no reason at all. She could say the silliest things, but leave you feeling like she just showed you a feeling inside her heart. She loved her sister's and was most happy to see them happy. She would cry at sad parts in movies or commercials. She cried every time an ASPCA commercial came on, and refused to change the channel because "those animals deserved our love". These pieces of her personality were never going to change, they were only going to grow with her. I need to teach myself to not create a story of who she would be, but let her grow in my heart as the person I remember she was. I will never know specifics, but I know enough to use her best traits to learn to love what can still be magical during Christmas. I have to stop letting Christmas be a time that I focus on what she is missing, or what we are missing. I need to work hard to make it a time to use the traits she left us with. To use her kind heart to share with others, to use her humor to make someone smile, to love her sisters extra hard for her. She gave the best gift I could ever want. To be her mother, and the one who knows the most beautiful parts of her. As mothers, we love every single gift our children put under the tree. Our children left us gifts as well, but they are not under the tree. They are deep in our hearts for us to find each year.


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