My Christmas Wish

Ready for Christmas

I haven’t blogged all week because I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas. Last minute shopping and wrapping because I tend to spoil my children a bit at this time of year. But, tonight, when I went to church to worship and celebrate the REAL reason we have Christmas, I found myself feeling really sad….

Sad that Steve has not been with us for one more year. This is our eighth Christmas without him and it’s still hard to believe he’s gone. As I look at my children, it seems as though he’s missed their whole lives and I guess, in reality, he has. Cameron was just a little boy, six years old, when we had our first Christmas without his Daddy. Now, he’s a teenager, with his own tastes in music, his own opinions and he’s even had his first kiss! At just three years old, Caitlin was still a baby when we lost her Daddy. She’s no longer a baby but a strong-willed, athletic, smart and kind hearted little girl. Since Connor was born after Steve died, he has grown up without his Daddy altogether.

At church tonight, I was overwhelmed with a longing to celebrate just one more Christmas with Steve. One more time to go to church. One more time to have him with me as our children open their Christmas presents. I cried and knew that God would understand why I was so sad.

I am often overcome with emotion when I am in church. It is there that I feel God’s presence and I truly know where Steve is (with God). After Steve died, I remember walking through my house feeling lost, like the other half of me was suddenly missing. I felt Steve’s absence with every inch of my being. When I went to church, however, a strange calm would come over me because I could look at the altar and know that he was in Heaven with Jesus. I didn’t have to wonder where he was when I was in church. My feelings changed from bewilderment to sadness. Even though he was in Heaven, I selfishly wanted him back here with me.

If I could have just one Christmas wish, it would be to have Steve back so that he could share in the joy of celebrating this holiday with our children. I know he would have fun wrapping their presents with me, cooking Christmas dinner and going to church as a family. I know this is a selfish wish, though. Steve is enjoying eternal life in Heaven but I just miss him so much during the holidays. Even after eight years, I can still hear him laughing. I know he’s smiling down on us from Heaven and this will have to be good enough for now.

I look forward to the day when we are reunited and I can spend Christmas with my soulmate again.

Crazy For You

Music has the power to take me back in time. I can remember where I was and who I was with just by listening to a song. I will even feel emotions related to those memories sometimes. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older, though, that not everyone feels so intensely about music. To some people, a song is just a song. But not to me…..

It was September of 1985. I was a freshman in high school and I had a big crush on an 11th grader named Steve. We were talking on the phone one night (it was September 24th to be exact – the night before Steve’s 16th birthday) when the subject of our upcoming homecoming dance came up. Steve said, “I could go stag or I could take you.” My reply was something along the lines of, “Yeah, you could take me.” That was it. We had plans for our first date and I was super excited!

I have a picture of us so I know exactly what I was wearing. A gray striped jumpsuit! Steve showed up late to pick me up and I had no idea that I would spend the next 19 years getting frustrated when he showed up late to EVERYTHING! As the years wore on, I would lie to him about the start time for events so that we would actually be on time….it would become known as “Steve time.” If a wedding was at 1:00, I told him it was at 12:30 ūüėČ

Anyway, we finally did arrive to the homecoming dance. Steve had the DJ dedicate a song to me. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt when he said, “To Mary From Steve” and started to play, “Crazy For You” by Madonna. My heart melted and that became “our song.” We danced to it that night in 1985. We would call each other on the phone and instead of saying hello, we would play our song into the phone. This was way before caller ID. Imagine how I felt when I would answer the phone, not knowing who was calling, and I would hear Madonna’s voice on the other end! I felt more loved than I can describe in words.

We would dance to it again at our wedding. I had “Crazy For You” engraved into Steve’s wedding band. We would play it in our living room and dance, for no reason at all. It was our song and anyone who knew us can attest to how special it was to us.

When Steve died, I was told that I could put three words on his gravestone. I was torn. He meant so much to so many people; how could I sum him up in just three words? Husband, Father, Son? Husband, Father, Brother? I really didn’t know what to do until Steve’s mother told me she knew which three words needed to go on his headstone: Crazy For You. I was extremely touched because those words meant everything to us but I didn’t realize that others knew how much they meant too. So that’s what I did. A lifetime of love summed up in three words on a gravestone.

Whenever I want to go back to those days of dancing in Steve’s arms, I just play the song and it all comes back….

I Can Do This!

There are a lot of things that I miss about being married to Steve but there is one thing that I miss the most: knowing that there’s¬†someone who will ALWAYS be there for you, no matter what happens. I am blessed with really good friends and they are certainly there for me when I need them to be but it’s just not the same. With Steve, it was an unspoken given that we would always put each other first in our lives. Our priority was the other one’s happiness and safety.

I¬†remember this¬†one time when I needed to get an MRI.¬†It was many years ago, before open MRI’s and all of the technology that we have today. I didn’t think it was a big deal so I went to have it done. My whole body was put into the machine and there was no one in the room with me. The technician talked to me over a speaker. I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe and I got really scared. Claustrophobia! The technician took me out of the machine and we rescheduled the appointment. My doctor gave me some Valium to take before the next MRI and Steve went with me. He was able to stay in the room with me and he touched my foot during the entire procedure. I remember thinking that I would be fine because Steve would never let anything happen to me. I felt better just knowing that he was there and in that room with me. I made it through the MRI just fine.

There were several other times when Steve’s very¬†presence calmed me during medical procedures.¬†I can remember feeling safe because he loved me so much and he would stay with me no matter what happened.¬†But it wasn’t just during medical procedures that I counted on him. If I was going to a party and I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t have to worry about¬†being alone. Steve was there. He was my best friend and we always had so much fun together. He had such an outgoing personality that I was always confident taking him with me to new places because everyone liked him. We would enjoy ourselves no matter where we were together.

Now, when I go to unfamiliar places or out¬†with groups of people that I don’t know very well,¬†it can be¬†a little intimidating. Steve¬†was in my life since I was 14 years old so when he was taken away suddenly, I was¬†truly on my own for the first time in my life. It’s almost as if I’ve had to “grow up” during these past seven years without him.¬† I’ve had to force myself to go outside of my comfort zone knowing that I need to keep living even though Steve is gone. This means that I have to keep meeting people and trying new things.¬†I have taken my children on vacation, just the four of us. I have started new hobbies and met new friends along the way. I’m learning that I have the strength to keep living on my own and slowly, I’m building up the confidence that I need to do it too.

Paying It Forward

I’ve spent my weekend shopping and wrapping gifts for families that I don’t even know. Our church does “Angel Tree” and my children convinced me to get three angels from it this year. Yesterday, I bought clothes for a 15 year old boy, and toys for a 4 year old boy and a 15 month old girl. In addition to these, I drove some of our church youth out shopping for their own angel. The kids were super excited because our group had enough money to buy a really cool bike for the 10 year old boy on our angel. It was awesome to see the excitement of the youth when we found the bike and still had enough money to get a matching helmet. It’s truly what Christmas is all about: giving to others who are less fortunate than we are.

As I was shopping for my angels, I kept thinking about the strangers who took care of us during that first holiday season without Steve, when we were the family in need. I remember being overwhelmed by the love that I felt from people I didn’t even know. I felt God all around me in a time when I could easily have felt completely alone.

When Steve died, I began receiving condolence cards in the mail. Many of them were from people that I didn’t even know, from all over the country. I didn’t know how these people knew about us or got my address but it was comforting to know that so many people were praying for us. Many of the cards told of prayer lists and even masses that were being said for our family. The most surprising part was the number of cards that contained checks! It was completely unexpected and I was so overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that I could only attribute it to God. I really had no other explanation.

There was a day, a few weeks after Steve died, when a firefighter came to pick up my van. He was not a friend of Steve’s and he did not work for the same department. He had arranged for new tires to be put on my van. Again, another stranger reaching out to us in our time of need.

As the Christmas holidays approached, I was contacted by Steve’s fire department to supply a wish list for my children. When I went to his fire station, they had gotten EVERYTHING on the kids’ wish lists! It was incredible the number of toys my children received that year! There was a woman at the fire station that day and I didn’t know her. The firefighters asked me to come into the office because she had something for me. This kind woman told me how she lived in a neighborhood near the fire station and had heard about Steve’s death. She said that she was thankful for him (she had never met him) because he served her community. I started crying as she told me how she went door to door collecting money for our family. That woman gave me a check for $2,000! I was sobbing! Never in my life had strangers wrapped their arms around me in prayer and support as they did when I lost Steve. I was a Christian before he died but in the midst of our tragedy, I felt God’s love all around me. It was truly amazing.

In addition to the toys, several other fire stations sent me gift cards that I used to buy a new washer and dryer. I was working at a school and the teachers gave me LOTS of gift cards that I used to buy shoes, clothes, school supplies, many things my children needed for months after Christmas. God had made sure that our family had everything we needed while I was going through the most difficult period of my life.

As I look back, I wish I had written thank you notes. I wish I could tell all of those people how much it meant to me when they reached out to us. At the time, I was so exhausted that all I could do was cry and say thank you. Now that time has passed and I am stronger, it’s my turn to give back to others in need. I especially love helping people that I don’t know because it feels like I’m “paying it forward.” My hope is that the families who receive our Christmas presents will feel God’s love in the same way that I did. When a friend helps you, it’s because they love you. When a stranger helps you, it’s because they love God. Perhaps those families will pay it forward when they are stronger too?

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

I haven’t blogged all week because I’ve been insanely busy with these munchkins of mine! It’s such a hectic time of year… gifts to buy, wrap and ship; holiday parties for the kids (school, sports, friends) not to mention those for me; and the ongoing things that come along with having three children. I’ve been thinking about the blog all week but have fallen into bed exhausted each night thinking that I would blog tomorrow so here it is, finally…..¬†

I was talking to a friend of mine the other night about how Steve died and it got me thinking about how much I endured in losing him and how far I’ve come since then. I’ve healed but I’ve also had to let go¬†or I could¬†be really angry with the way things turned out for us. Let me tell you about some of the things that happened….

When Steve was killed on that motorcyle, it was the beginning of an ordeal that would last almost two years. My first order of business (after the funeral, of course) was to hire a lawyer. I was told that I needed one since it was a large box truck that hit him and everyone (even the police) were assuming it was some kind of business truck. At 33 years old, I knew nothing about hiring a lawyer to sue a company for killing my husband! It was absurd to me and felt like I was living in¬†an awful nightmare. So, I hired one and I honestly do not remember how I found him. I am sure that someone recommended him to me but I have no idea who it was. Steve’s parents went with me to speak to him and he seemed nice enough; I signed a contract without really understanding what I was doing. This was within a WEEK of Steve being killed. I was pregnant and had started taking anti-depressants. I felt as if I was living underwater because everything seemed to be moving in slow motion. I couldn’t understand anything that had happened so I just did what others told me to do. It was almost as if I had become a child again because my decision making skills were so impaired.

In any case, after speaking to another mother at my daughter’s preschool, I learned that the lawyer I hired was overcharging me! She told me to fire him immediately and that she would help me get a legitimate lawyer. This woman was a lawyer herself¬†so I trusted her.¬†I fired¬†the¬†first lawyer¬†immediately. She referred me to her brother’s law firm and they took my case pro bono. I was in much better hands.

Once the lawyers were hired, they went about the business of trying to settle my ¬†insurance claims. I had three insurance companies fighting over who was going to pay me and how much. The truck that killed Steve was not a business truck as everyone had previously thought. It belonged to the father of the driver and was, in fact, underinsured. Since there wasn’t much insurance on it, our motorcyle and car insurance companies were responsible for paying me. The lawyers spent several months hammering out the details of our insurance policies so that I could get the maximum amount due to me. In the meantime, the wrecker company that was holding the totaled motorcyle called my house to see if I was coming to pick it up. I was technically still the owner since the insurance companies had not paid for it yet. I was devastated. I told them I didn’t want the bike and that I didn’t care what they did with it but to please never call me again. Then, I began getting letters from the Secretary of State because the motorcycle didn’t have insurance on it. Of course it didn’t! It was totaled! Again, another reminder of how my beloved husband’s life ended and another phone call for me to make so that I could grieve in peace.

But, there would be no peace for a very long time. As more details of the accident emerged, it was discovered that the man who hit Steve actually saw him coming. He thought he couldn’t stop so he sped up. Steve laid his bike down as he slid underneath the truck and the driver stopped. Instead of getting out to see the person¬†that he hit, however, this¬†man thought it would be best to get his truck out of the lane of traffic so he completed his turn, dragging my husband¬†with his truck. There were witnesses to the accident who saw him stop and then start moving again. Who does that with a person underneath the vehicle??? He was charged with Vehicular Homicide and the long criminal ordeal started. It would be two years before I faced Steve’s killer in court and watched him get sentenced to one year of probation and a $1000 fine payable to our church (I was allowed to pick a charity that meant a lot to me and Steve). I walked out of that courtroom and I let go. I let go of the hope for justice. I let go of the hate for that man. I can’t say that I forgive him; I just don’t give him any of my thoughts because he doesn’t deserve them.

There are so many other things that happened during those two years but I will leave them for another post. Writing about my experiences helps me to heal but I¬†believe that it also offers hope. Hope that if I can survive, then you can too. I’ve come a long way since those days when I was so traumatized that I couldn’t even make a decision for myself. I am whole again. I am ready to love again. I am happy again. Steve would be proud of me, and I am sure of that.

At My Wit’s End!

Being an only parent is really hard right now. My oldest is 13 years old and I’m dealing with a lot of teenage issues for the very first time in my¬†own home. I say, “in my own home,” because I’ve been a middle school and high school counselor for over 9 years so teenage drama is not new to me. It’s a very different story to live with it though!

I’ve spent the past few days grounding, talking, yelling, and reasoning with my son who seems as if he’s gone crazy at times. I’m sure it doesn’t help that he has ADHD but combine that with his hormones, and I am losing my mind! The worst part of it, though, is not having another parent to take over when I am at my wit’s end. I spend my days issuing consequences and then second-guessing my decisions because there’s no one here to tell me that it’s the right thing to do. Am I being too hard on him? Are my expectations too high? Am I being too lenient? Am I letting him get away with too much?

I remember the very first time that I spanked¬†my son on the hand. He was about 2 years old and he wouldn’t stay out of the dog’s water dish. I smacked his hand and firmly told him, “No.” Then, I went into the other¬†room and cried! Steve was the one who told me that it was the right thing to do; that we didn’t want to raise our son without boundaries and that he had to learn to stay out of the dog’s water! The next day, I¬†heard Steve say to him, “I’m going to spank your butt and I’m not going to feel bad about it!” That day has always stuck in my mind¬†because it was striking how different we were when it came to discipline. I knew¬†my son¬†needed the discipline but it broke my heart when my child was hurting. His father, however, was not nearly as soft-hearted and issued discipline¬†swiftly to correct behavior.

Now don’t get me wrong, we did not spank our child frequently. All of my children could probably count on one hand the number of times they’ve actually been spanked. In fact, I’m not a big proponent of spanking. Time out was implemented as soon as my children were old enough to comprehend it. As they’ve gotten older, I try to use discipline to actually teach them something. Just yesterday, the arguing between my son and daughter was ridiculous. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I took away their I-Pods and told them that in order to get them back, they each had to write down¬†ten reasons why they loved the other one. They were so mad at me! They complained and said they couldn’t think of¬†ten things but they did it. It’s times like these, though, that make me wonder what Steve would do if he were here. Am I being too lenient on them? Am I teaching them the skills they need to succeed in future relationships?

My son has always been a good student but school does not come easy to him. When he made the A-B Honor Roll in 6th grade for the first time EVER, he was thrilled! He continued to be on the Honor Roll that entire year. In 7th grade, he was moved into a more advanced Science class and struggled to pass it. He was really upset that he wasn’t making the Honor Roll because of that one class. This year (8th grade), however, his whole attitude toward school seems to have changed. Instead of striving for A’s and B’s, he’s content to just pass his classes. He’s doing the minimum amount of work needed instead of working hard and doing his best. I’ve issued consequences (by taking away video games, cell phone, etc), I’ve offered incentives as a way to motivate him (if he gets a project done, I’ll take him to¬†get the video game he’s been saving his money to buy), I’ve reasoned with him (if you want to go to college, you have to do your work), and I’m at my wit’s end! Would he be acting this way if his dad were here?

I know that I’m a good mom and I’m doing the best I can do on my own. It’s just hard to stop second-guessing my decisions when there’s no one here to reassure me. In any case, I’ll keep on keeping on and hope these children that God has blessed me with turn out ok ūüôā

Still Here With Us….

I’m amazed at how much my children resemble their father. As a counselor, I have read many studies on the whole nature vs. nurture argument. If I looked solely at my children, however, I would say that nature is the dominating force in a child’s personality.

My oldest son, Cameron, was only 6 years old when his father was killed; he is now 13 years old. Steve was 15 years old when we met each other. It’s striking for me to look at Cameron and think that he’s just two years younger than his dad was when I met him. Not only does Cameron LOOK more like his dad the older he gets, but his personality is SO MUCH like him too! My son has a quirky sense of humor and is constantly making me laugh. He is a free spirited boy who doesn’t care what others think of him. He has his own sense of style and isn’t interested in what’s popular. These are all the same things that drew me to Steve when I was just a teenager myself (I was in the ninth grade when I met him). I can only think that these similarities are due to genetics since Steve hasn’t been here to influence Cameron as his personality has developed. It makes me smile every time he does something that reminds me of his dad because it’s as if Steve is still here with us.

My daughter, Caitlin, was only 3 years when her father died. She is now 10 years old and, although she looks more like me, she has a lot of her dad’s personality characteristics too. Caitlin has always been a fearless child. When she was little, she would scare me to death as she headed straight for the deep end of the pool! Now, as a competitive gymnast, she fearlessly does flips, jumps and various skills on the floor, beam and bars. As an 8 year old, she came home from our local amusement park to proudly announce that she had ridden all of the roller coasters (even some that are too scary for me)! These are exactly the kind of things that her father used to do. He loved roller coasters and anything else that would give him a thrill. For our fifth wedding anniversary, I surprised him with a ride in an open cockpit bi-plane. He loved it! Just like with Cameron, I can only attribute her personality to nature because her dad hasn’t been here to nurture her since she was a baby.

My little guy, Connor, is just developing his personality. Since he’s only 6 years old, it’s hard for me to see the resemblances between him and his dad. His grandparents, however, see many things in Connor that remind them of Steve. Connor loves to dress up as superheroes and his favorite toys are action figures. Cameron never dressed up and he played with legos and other building blocks, so he doesn’t get this from his big brother. According to Steve’s parents, however, Steve always dressed up as Batman and Superman when he was Connor’s age. They said his favorite pajamas were superhero and he would make them tie a blanket around his neck as a cape. Connor was born after Steve died so I think it’s pretty great that he likes the same things that his dad liked at his age.

My children are such a wonderful blend of me and Steve. I love how they all remind me of their dad, but in different ways. I look forward to seeing which personality characteristics they’ve inherited from him as they get older too. I know that he lives on in them and it always makes me smile.

The Waves of Grief

The one thing I’ve learned on this grief journey of mine, is that there are always good days and bad days. Fortunately, the bad days are fewer with more time in between them. When Steve first died, I thought I would never feel good again. Every part of my body ached with a physical longing that felt a lot like the flu. My chest hurt when I breathed as if there was a weight sitting on top of me. I had to force myself¬†to eat because I felt nauseous and food was tasteless. Showering took an enormous amount of strength and I would feel like laying down to sleep after exerting so much energy.

Now, seven years later, I have more good days than bad. When I have a true “grief day,” it catches me by surprise. It’s usually a holiday or anniversary of some sort (the last one was on Steve’s birthday in September) and my grief can render me useless. It’s as if he just died all over again. I am unable to stop crying, don’t feel like eating and it takes all of my energy to get out of bed. I am always surprised by the amount of pain I feel on these grief days, although you would think I’d be used to it by now.

I’ve learned to be gentle with myself and to allow the waves of grief to hit me every once in a while.¬†When I do, I am able to recover from them faster and the grief doesn’t seem to linger past a day or two. If I fight the grief, and don’t allow myself to feel it, the bad feelings last much longer. It’s as if I need to cry it all out so that I can keep moving forward and feeling good. If I don’t let it out, then my body just holds onto the grief.

Sometimes, when I know that a particularly rough anniversary is coming, I will purposely plan something that will put me into a better frame of mind. I will allow myself to be sad without being swallowed up inside the wave of grief. For Father’s Day, I focus on my children and our tradition of sending balloons up to Heaven. Each of us write a letter to Steve (or draws a picture) and we put them into the balloons before we let them go. It is healing for me to write to him and then watch that letter ascend into the sky. I always feel sad on Father’s Day but our ritual allows me to honor him and then move on with my day. I try to make Father’s Day about my children, not about missing their dad. Writing the letter keeps me from stuffing my feelings so that I am able to keep moving forward.

¬†I went to a funeral service today for a friend of mine. When his widow spoke about her love and how he was her best friend, I was taken back to that awful day in October of 2004¬†as I said goodbye to Steve at his funeral. I was sobbing¬†today and I’m sure some people thought I was crazy since I wasn’t that close to the man who died! It was a wave of grief that came over me because¬†I saw myself in that widow.

The good news is that I was able to recover from the wave and move on with the rest of my day. Seven years ago, that wave would have completely immobilized me. Perhaps I am healing after all?

Only vs. Single Parent

I love my children. I wouldn’t trade being their mother for anything in the world. In my darkest days, they were the reason I could get out of bed.

With that being said, one of the hardest things about being widowed is never having a night “off.” I miss the times when I could leave them with their dad and know that I could enjoy myself without¬†being worried about them. This is¬†one way that¬†being an “only parent” is significantly different than¬†being a “single parent.” ¬†For most of the single parents I know, they can plan nights out on those weekends when they do not have their children. There is something comforting about knowing that your children are with their other parent¬†and you don’t have to worry about them. Leaving your children with a babysitter, no matter how good he/she is, does not provide the same sense of ease. No matter who is taking care of my children, if it’s not me, then it’s not their parent.

When Cameron was four years old, I was a graduate student who took classes at night. This one night, my neighbor was watching Cameron and Caitlin for us because Steve was working and I had school. My cell phone battery was low so I turned the phone off while I was in class. I didn’t worry about doing this because Steve was still here with us. My children had two parents so their safety didn’t hinge solely upon me.

As I was driving home from class, I remembered that my phone was turned off. When I turned it on, I had several messages from Steve and my neighbor. Cameron had fallen off a trampoline and broke his arm! By the time I got the messages, Steve was with him at the ER and his arm had already been set. I felt terrible but his Daddy was there so Cameron was fine. Since that day, my phone is never far from me if my children are not with me. I can even be a bit paranoid about checking it!

I’m sure all parents worry about their children.¬†I know I’m not unique in that way. It’s just¬†the constant responsibility that is exhausting and can become overwhelming at¬†times. When I decided to have these children, I did so¬†within a happy marriage and with the understanding that I¬†would have someone helping me. I sometimes just wish for a night off from the responsibility. I’m envious of my friends who are “kidless”¬†because their children are with the other parent.¬†I think everyone needs a break sometimes and¬†it can be¬†healthy for all parents.

Do not misunderstand me: I am¬†not complaining about my children. I have great friends¬†and excellent babysitters. I have even gone out of town without my children thanks to the loving people in our lives. I am simply saying that being an only parent is very different than being a single parent.¬†No matter where I am (near or far), I am worried about my children in a way that I wouldn’t be if I had left them with their father. I take my responsibility as their only parent very seriously. I am never out of touch from those who are caring for my children, for fear that something will happen and I will need to be reached.¬†I love my children and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them.

A Magical Season

My favorite part of the holiday season is the magic and wonder that I see in my children’s faces. I just love their excitement when our Elf on a Shelf shows up on Thanksgiving. They start talking to him and telling him what they want Santa to bring them. They’ve named our Elf, Bob. Funny name for an Elf but he’s all theirs and they love him.

Then there’s this thing called “Portable North Pole” that sends video messages from Santa to the children too. My kids love it and wait excitedly for theirs to arrive. My oldest son doesn’t believe in Santa anymore but he still enjoys his video. My daughter (10 years old) figured out that the Easter Bunny wasn’t real but, even though we had the “Santa talk,” she still believes in Santa. I’m pretty sure this will be my last year for her to believe so I’m going to enjoy every minute of it! My six year old believes in all the magic and wonder of this season.

Steve always enjoyed the holidays. He would hang lights on our house and scare me to death by climbing on the roof to do it! This is the one time of the year (okay, second time if you include their birthdays!) when I don’t worry about spoiling my children. I have tried very hard to raise them with the same values and morals as I would have had he been here with me, but it’s been hard not to indulge them when I know they are missing out on having a father. My two oldest, the ones that knew him, have spent so many days and nights crying for their Daddy that I just want to see them smile. Sometimes, that means giving in and getting them something they’ve asked me to buy them. It’s been a real struggle for me to keep that urge in check and remember that raising them to be thoughtful, caring and generous people means that I have to say no when I really want to say yes.

Steve and I were Christians and active in our church. This is a magical season in the church because we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I’ve continued to keep Jesus in our holiday and it makes me feel even closer to Steve because of it. This is a time of year when I can miss him but really feel that I know where he is. He is in Heaven because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It helps me to celebrate the birth of Christ and it keeps my children focused on the true meaning of Christmas too. I love it that my daughter uses her own money to buy toys for kids in need and my son is active in his church youth group. My little guy is just now beginning to understand that not everyone has the money to buy what they need or want. I will take him shopping with me this year when I buy gifts for our church Angel Tree so that he can see how we give back to others during the holidays.

This is such a bittersweet time of year for our family. We miss having Steve here with us but I can feel him smiling down on our home. It is filled with Christian faith, love, tradition and generosity; all the things he would have helped me instill in our children. I am proud of how I am raising them and I will enjoy every minute of them during this magical season!

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