Reflections on Christmas 2016

I was hesitant to fully engage in this holiday season. There were noticeable absences in our recent family photos. I forced myself to decorate. I forgot to download my Christmas music. I let Costco do my baking. The festivities that I had always embraced so naturally didn’t feel the same as they had before.

I continued putting one foot in front of the other. Faking it until I could make it. I knew that Richard noticed. Of course he did. He was doing the same.

And then it snuck up on us. In small increments at first. It began with friends and neighbours. Some came to call. Others invited us out. Understanding, empathy, and connection are deeply seeded needs of the human experience.

It then continued with our children. Spending time with our sons and their wives/partners brings pure contentment to my soul. Adding in grandchildren is a joy that I can never adequately describe. Reunited, we told familiar stories. We laughed at tales that had been retold a hundred times. We slipped into the comfort of not having to pretend. We luxuriated in the warmth of family. Our shared experiences continued to bind us more tightly than ever.

We hung our stockings near the fire. This year we hung not only our current ones…but also the stockings of loved ones who are no longer here.

During one family gathering, Richard and I looked at each other, simultaneously overcome by emotion. We both deeply felt the presence of those who could not be seen. The feeling was unmistakable. We now recognize that day as a turning point toward healing the pieces that have been taken from our hearts.

It is said that at the end of our lives it is not our careers, our money, or our possessions that we reach for. Instead, it is the gift of family that we yearn for and hold most dear. That gift, Richard and I have received in abundance. For this, we are most deeply grateful.


This post has been written in memory of our loved ones who have so immeasurably enhanced our lives. It is especially dedicated to our first granddaughter, Baylee Jade Kailuweit-Wageman who was born October 28, 2016, and sorrowfully passed away two days later. Rest in peace beautiful Baylee. You have enriched our hearts profoundly, as only an angel could.

40 Replies to “Reflections on Christmas 2016”

  1. It is the family and friends that pull you through. Work can distract but it takes a human touch to help you process. I am so sorry for your loss. Way too young.

  2. Donna, my thoughts are with you…they say a loss of a child/ grandchild is the hardest. I know from helping a dear friend over the years, her son was like mine, that it has taken her a long time to be able to fully love again. I think that her grandchildren helped. However along the way it just about pulled the family apart because she did not or would not let the healing happen. No matter how hard you have two choices..to live life to the fullest, healthy and happy moving forward. The other is to be stuck in that space of being and feeling lost. I hope that this Christmas brought healing and moving forward for all of you, as only your little angel would want. May 2017 bring health and happiness to all!

  3. My condolences to you and your family. The love and support of family and friends is like a salve to a grieving heart. I am praying for continued Grace and support to you and your loved ones. God bless you.

  4. You as always, dear friend, rise above yourself and your pain to find beauty, love and joy wherever you go. And in doing so you spread the same to others. You are a gift. Hugs to you sweet girl. ❤️

  5. So sorry for your loss, Donna. Georgia expressed reality really well. I hope the healing for you and your family can start and that Christmas was a turning point. I have close family members who lost their children or their mothers way too early. It is incredibly hard and some people never get over this. Having family and friends to support you and be there for you is so precious. I truly hope 2017 will be so much better for you and Richard in any way possible!

  6. Dear Donna,
    My heart aches for you. Minutes before I read your post, my son called to announce that we will have a little granddaughter in May. Our first as well. Life is so fragile and precious. May you be enveloped by the love of all your friends and family. You are in my prayers, Donna.

  7. So sorry to read about your loss dear Donna. Sending you lots of love …. May 2017 bring you much love and all the happiness that you desire💜

  8. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Your words about the healing power of being surrounded by the love of family and friends is so true. Life is so precious and the loss of one so young is tragic. Peace be with you and your family and may 2017 bring you much joy and reasons to celebrate.

  9. It’s difficult to put emotions into words, but you have expressed your thoughts and feelings so beautifully. I was so happy this month to know that Shaun and our son, Kyle, ( as well as Shea and Matt) could spend time together, as they have both experienced a similar loss. It was a good night for the four cousins and I know that Shaun appreciated it so much. Our thoughts have always been with all of the Wagemans, during this time of devastating loss and then incredible joy, with the arrival of Jordyn. Debbie Gordon. (Shaun’s aunt)

    1. Hi, Debbie – Thank you so much for reading and for commenting. Shaun really did appreciate his time with Kyle. Your thoughts and well-wishes mean very much to us. I look forward to keeping in touch.

  10. Dear Donna:

    Your granddaughter is a beautiful little soul. It is so hard to lose her before her life has even begun. I’m sorry. There really are no words for such a loss.

    Jude

  11. Donna, your words are so eloquent and illuminate the feelings of loss so many feel this year. My sympathies to you and your family! Your words tell me that peace found its way into your hearts through the spirit of Christmas and may you find the healing you seek.

    1. Hi, Terri – There are always familiar faces that I look forward to hearing from when I post. Thank you for being one of those faces. And thank you for commenting during your ‘blogging break’.

    2. I am at a loss for words. My niece is experiencing a similar devastating loss as you are (her just-born twins were both lost in late November) and I have no words for her either.

      I do love Georgia’s comment above about choices. May this holiday season and the new year bring you peace and healing. And I hope you choose to continue to live life to the fullest in the new year.

      1. Thank you for your kind words and positive thoughts, Pat, they are greatly appreciated. I am so sorry to hear about her niece’s twins. My heart goes out to her.

    3. As always Donna, so beautifully written and your words touched me and gave meaning to some of our feelings too. I am so sorry for those you have lost recently, I can’t imagine the pain but how wonderful that you have family around you and are able to now face your grief and hopefully the healing process can start. We have been talking about how grateful we are that, even though we have come from a ruined country, we have so many of our family around us here, that we all like each other and have had one of the best Christmas’s ever, but prior to Christmas we too struggled with grief and worry and for the first time ever, we too had done nothing we would normally do for the festive season. But the joy and laughs on Christmas day also helped us to realise how we are so blessed and while we grieve and worry, we are very thankful for those we have around us! Thinking of you and your dearest family, especially your little angel Baylee and wishing you a healthy, happy and peaceful New Year!

      1. Hi, Sue – Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful reply. I am so sorry to hear that grief and worry struck your family prior to the holidays. I am glad that you were also surrounded by family this Christmas and experienced much joy and laughter. I greatly appreciate you keeping in touch.

    4. I’m so sorry for the loss of your granddaughter and the pain your family has suffered.
      That your friends and family have gathered to help you through this holiday season is a blessing.
      I hope the new year is kinder and gentler to you and your family <3

      1. Hi, Theresa – Thank you so much for stopping by and for commenting. I just checked out your blog and look forward to following it further. Wishing you a very positive 2017!

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