The plan was to collect a new Christmas ornament for each of our children every year. It seemed like a fun tradition to celebrate both our living child and our dead one. And really, I thought that I was doing well with my daughter being gone from me for the second Christmas. After all, this year I'd get to celebrate with a living baby in my arms. And while that does not in any way "fix" the absence of Eve, that is something very, very good. Something worth celebrating.
But when I stood at the mall kiosk that sells personalized ornaments yesterday, that now-familiar heaviness lay itself across my skin. Because it really can't be called fun, to try to shop for a memorial ornament for your daughter when you can picture too clearly the adventurous one year old she would have -- should have -- been.
It reminded me too clearly of the time I tried shopping at a craft store for supplies with which to make a scrapbook for Eve. All the miniature pink strollers and baby bibs and stickers that said "Welcome to the world" rubbed rough against my raw heart. Nothing seemed right for a stillborn baby.
And so it was with the ornaments. All of the baby ornaments were too pastel, too sweet, and all the rest of the ornaments too silly. They had no weight to them, and I want anything associated with her to have weight, because she did.
I happened upon an ornament at Target while running errands -- a single porcelain feather, dangling from a piece of twine. I bought it because I was afraid that I'd forget to go searching for one in the busyness of life with a newborn, and because really the search wasn't anywhere near as enjoyable as I'd expected.
Here's what I had imagined -- that, with Jacob in tow, I'd go to the specialty Christmas shop that opens up at one of the plant nurseries here every year, resplendent with every kind of holiday decoration imaginable. I'd wander among the decked trees and find that one magical ornament that would connect me to my daughter, that would make it feel like she wasn't dead at all.
Except that she is dead. Nothing, nothing in all the world can make that not so.
So I bought the porcelain feather, and really, it's kind of perfect. It could be an angel wing's feather, or have fallen from a bird, and both birds and angels make me think of her. And it has weight.
I believe that my daughter -- the part of her that counts, that part that makes her her -- is alive with God. That gives me great comfort. I like to picture her as a girl of perhaps ten years old or so, dancing and singing and playing games with Jesus and all the other gone-too-soon children, laughing through eternity. It is my hope that I will see her again.
But I miss her. Oh, how I miss her.