I snuggle into the perfect spot on my sofa so I can see the beautiful view of the rolling hills, with brown, rust and tan grasses blowing in the wind and trees of all colors out my front windows. My vanilla-hazelnut coffee warms my hands and gives my inner being comfort and peace. I think about how long it’s been since I have really enjoyed this time of the year. You see, my favorite time of the year starts in fall when all the leaves and grasses are changing colors. As I am sitting on my sofa, I am reminded how beautiful the colors are, how peaceful it is and how amazing our God is to provide it for us. It makes me sad that I have lost the childlike excitement for the fall I once had. It doesn’t stop there because right after fall it leads into my next favorite time of year: Christmas. I love the giving spirit, the laughter, the family time and the faith filled holiday.

I think it’s been ten years or so since I really have enjoyed those two holidays. I would always bake and give goodies to friends. I used to decorate and hang lights all over and then sit in the living room only with the Christmas lights on and enjoy. I think some of the change has to do with our society making us want more, hurry through the fall and many times I feel like we skip Thanksgiving altogether. Then, when we get to December people are in such a rush to find the perfect gifts that we go in debt overbuying and forget what Christmas is about.

Unfortunately, for me right now I can tell you I have lost the love for my favorite times of year because we are missing a piece to our family puzzle. It’s our son Tyler. He lost his life in a car accident on August 23, 2013.

He was just going to be gone 30 minutes to hang out with friends, but he never made it home. This will mark the fifth Thanksgiving and Christmas we have had without him. It is very different without Tyler, but we have made a promise to not stop talking about him. I know some people feel awkward when we bring him up or we remind them of what he did or would say. But for us, he was a part of our family for 15 years. He is still a part of our family, just in a different way. He is now tucked away in our memories and hearts forever. I have made a point of always finding something special that reminds me of Tyler to stuff in our stockings. It’s like our little angel is leaving us a gift.

What I miss the most is the laugher, the smiles, all of us being together talking and having fun. Don’t get me wrong, we are still together as a family, but it feels different. The kinds of different only a person who has lost a child can know. However, I have found that laughter is “good medicine” for grief (Proverbs 17:22). I know some people may not feel that they can be happy and laugh after a loss. I am learning after four plus years that laughter sooths the soul, it gives us peace and it also makes a sad time more manageable. I have found that my body feels so much better after I have had a good laugh. The kind that makes ever part of your body jiggle, snort uncontrollably and smile so big that your mouth hurts. I have been told our body releases feel-good chemicals when we laugh. God has designed us to laugh, cry, be happy, sad and benefit from all of it.

So this year I will embrace and savor the changing of seasons, I will sit and soak up the goodness God created. I will slow down to enjoy what I think is important to my family and not follow the crowd. I will laugh, cry and remember­­ Tyler. Knowing that he is always smiling down from Heaven and laughing with us no matter what. “There is a time for everything . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh.” (Eccl.3:1-4). I pray God fills your heart with hope, joy and laughter this holiday season.

Missy Hillmer

Missy Hillmer is a writer, photographer, wife, mother, creative lady whose mind is constantly on the go. She loves coffee, dark chocolate especially with nuts, music soothes her soul and being outside in the sun recharges her body. She has an angel in Heaven. Her faith is what gets her through each day. Since her son Tyler’s accident she is passionate about telling her story with the hope that it will help or inspire at least one person who has lost a child.